Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What, I Have To Do It Again?

In the hard cold world of real-life writers, edit is not a bad word. Even revise is considered a 'happy' verb, as in "My agent loves my manuscript and sent me notes and now I'm going to revise it." Or, the more common, "Gawd, if I have to go through my manuscript one more time I'm going to go crazy, but last night I dreamed that the protagonist would never do what I've got her doing in the fourth chapter because _______(fill in your brilliant dream insight), which means that everything from Chapter Four on has to change. But at least I can fix it -- whew! I'm revising." Or, the ever popular, "Huh. I thought my character's development was pitched at just the right combination of subtlety and clarity to show internal conflicts, but nobody in writers group could understand what happened to make Jennifer jump off the bridge in the third chapter. I'll revise."

If you're lucky enough to get to the stage where you need to revise that means you've got something to work with. It also means you like your work enough to feel it's worth a second or third or tenth effort. Chances are that no matter how good your writing is, when it's at the early drafts stage and you show it to agents or teachers or insightful writing buddies, you'll discover it could be better. Once that nugget of reality nestles into your active brain, it's like the proverbial lightbulb goes on. Revising = Opportunity to Improve = Good!

For those of us edging from the warm, cozy fantasy world of wannabe into that hard cold world of real-life writers, this realization is a giant step. When we can get excited about the hard work that goes into revising -- paying serious attention to the details of storyline and character development, always looking for the words that express these things most deftly, putting in the many hours it takes -- then we can also see that our equation might change. Revising = Opportunity to Improve = Good Enough to Publish. When I think of it that way, I don't mind having to revise. Again.



  1. So true Linda, it really can be a tough reality to face. Revising is where the manuscript really starts to come to life. It's one of my favorite parts!

  2. My editing/revising stage is going sooooooooo slow! But, it is gratifying work, and I do enjoy watching it improve with all the effort.

  3. It took me YEARS to get to where you are, Heather. Now, I, too, love revising. Here's a secret key for me: I have to visualize the writing in my pages as clear, deft, intense and taking no prisoners. It's amazing how that changes what I see as necessary!

  4. Sounds like you're onto the good stuff, Madison. It IS gratifying, isn't it? Thanks for the comment!