Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dontcha Just Love Revision?

I am neck deep in a second round of requested revisions and feeling antsy about the process. I KNOW everything I’m doing is strengthening the manuscript and deepening the story but when do you know enough is enough? I feel like I’m taking way too long to do this, and as a writer, well, shouldn’t I be able to get it done - quicker?

ARGH! Harumph.

When I first received the e-mail with further suggestions from my agent I rolled up my sleeves and got busy. Then life got in the way. We entertained visitors. We celebrated my daughter’s birthday. Then I had to go back to the gym because of the nights dining out with visitors and the cake from my daughter’s birthday. Then Easter. And more visitors. And spring break. And back to the gym to work off the chocolate bunnies consumed. And….oh, yeah, revisions!

Seriously, for about three weeks all my twitter feed read was various ways to say “Coffee and revisions!” Exciting stuff. (of course if Neil Gaiman tweeted about coffee and revisions, he’d make it sound witty and eloquent and something you’d want to be doing right NOW!)

And here I am, about ¾ of the way through and wondering if what I’m doing is truly strengthening the story. Or am I just spinning my wheels?

As I go through my manuscript there are moments I’m finding places to dig deeper, areas I know I kind of glossed over before and sometimes I wonder “How did I ever think this was ready for submission?”

And then of course, there’s that thought that wakes me up at 2:57AM -”What if there’s a third round?”

For much of the day I feel scattered, crazy, and cranky. I talk to myself. Dinner overboils on the stove. Thankfully my family accepts this. But when I hit it right...when I’m in the writing zone and I know I’ve nailed a paragraph, or setting description or character nuance, I realize that however long it takes me to do this is fine. After all, I want my best work to be out there.

So, spill...how do you feel when you are revising?

Photo Credit: me...yes, me, on what may have been the worst hair day in the history of man...anything for my art...


  1. Robin,

    Thanks for this post.

    Once, I was asked by an editor to add more suspense to a picture book submission. I tried but failed. I've rewritten that story many times now and just recently two people in a critique group said it might be a magazine story instead of a picture book. YIKES! Talk about feeling unsure of myself now!!!

    Hang in there. You'll get it. I loved your photo. You captured that look of panic, frustration,terror, etc. We all know that look!

    Linda A.

  2. Okay, Robin, first off, you stole my post idea! I, too, am neck deep in revisions (though not as far along as you - my mss is still unfinished). But still, sometimes I feel as though I am drowning. But in the end I know what I'm doing is making the story stronger. Or, if it doesn't, I'll have learned something from it. But it's those moments, like you said, when you know you've nailed it, that makes it all worthwhile. To heck with dinner!

  3. When I start feeling overwhelmed in revision, I stop trying to fix more than one thing at a time, especially Robin, when you are as far in the process as your are.

    I may do a pass looking for ways to beef up emotion and internal thought, another pass adding tension, another for continuity, etc.

  4. I think J.A.'s idea is the only one that would work for me. How can you possibly expect to see everything at once?

  5. Wow. I read this and had a second where I thought. "Wait. Did I write this?" This is so the process. All you can do is trust your agent and trust your ability and wade into it. It's frustrating, but wondering how we ever thought it was good enough to submit is how we know we're seeing the flaws and if we can see them we can fix them. Yeah, there might be another round but you're making your book better bit by bit every single day and that's all you can do. Hang in there! It's gonna be great! Can't wait to read it!

  6. Hopefully, if there's a third round, it won't be as substantial! Keep chugging along!

  7. Thanks for the comments! Now I know I'm in great company :)

    I would have visited sooner, but you guessed it...I was revising some more. I have about twenty pages left to look over.

    Linda - Kudos for sticking with a picture book! It's so hard to add suspense to something that's only 32 pages long. Keep at it.

    Meg - I thought of you as I wrote this, lol.

    JA & Gale - What happened is this...I was looking it over to add setting descriptions, then the more I played with one area, I saw where I could strenghthen something else but happy to say there are some scenes in there now that I'm really proud of (watch, they'll get cut now!)

    Jeff - it's so nice to know that I'm not "alone" I know I'm not, really and all of this will hopefully lead to somewhere, but it's nice to know that as writers we share some common issues

    Andrea - Thanks! I will :) There is a light at the end of the tunnel, I swear.

  8. Robin: If you really look this, um, frazzled during your latest round of revisions, you must be doing something right! To paragraph someone famous (I don't know who it was, but I think it was in reference the whole writing process): Revising is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.

    Maybe when you finish, this time, your gift to yourself should be a trip to the hair salon!! Hey, you'll deserve it. Hehe. ;-P

  9. I mean, paraphrase!

  10. I get the picture. Totally get it. Yeah, revisions are hard but I suppose I like them. First drafts are invigorating but they take a lot out of me. And revisions, I feel as if I can kick back and make everything all pretty and sparkly.

  11. Christina - I actually DO like the revision process! I think I just get frustrated because I don't know how to balance life along with my revisions. In a perfect world, once I get revision requests or editorial suggestions I could hole myself up somewhere and have someone bring me meals three times a day. But, until I hit the mega millions lottery...that's just not possible! So I'll just have to learn to embrace to process.

    JL - :)

    Oh, btw...I'M FINSIHED!!!!!!!!!!!

    Whoot!! (for now at least)