Oct 25, 2012

a portrait of insanity. i mean--revisions.

Two words have never felt so good. Seriously.

I know I'll be back to it in a bit, but for now, I'm celebrating the end of six very long weeks.

I've been through several rounds of revision already with so many different projects, but every time feels like the first. So I'm partly writing this road map to remind myself of the process.

Day 1: Edit letter arrives in your inbox. You're utterly excited to finally read it. About ten words into the letter your excitement starts to curdle. Die. Instead the panic starts to rise as you start reading all of the impossible things your agent/editor thinks need to change. Doesn't she know they're essential to the plot?! You talk on the phone with agent/editor and realize that they aren't as essential as you thought. You repeat the mantra writing is all about killing your darlings over and over again in your head to psych yourself up for the gargantuan task ahead.

Days 2 and 3: *commence utter panic, chocolate binge and denial of reality*

Day 4: Okay. You can do this. Breathe and repeat after me. You. Can. Do. This.

Day 5-Week 2: You start deleting scenes (between tears and more chocolates) and writing new ones. You have no idea if you're making it better or utterly destroy any semblance of bookness it had.

Week 3: You stop and reread through everything you've done (about 100 pages deleted/rewritten). Hey. It's not so bad. It could even be good. It might even be... *gasp* better? Could your agent/editor actually be right?

Week 4: You thought you would be done by now. But you're not. Your manuscript is starting to resemble a half-creature. More minotaur than centaur. But if it were a centaur, it would be the ones from Harry Potter and not those floofy pony creatures from Disney's Fantasia films. No. Your manuscript is gnarly. And it bites. And it might shoot poor unaware wizarding students if it had the chance.

Week 5: Your manuscript is looking better, but you, dear writer, have gone downhill. You've been living off coffee and whatever meals your poor husband decided to scrounge together for you. You've hit the wall. The point where even a few days off can't recharge your writing batteries. Week 5 is a beast.

But then... you reach Week 6.

Week 6: There's a light! A light at the end of the tunnel! You've just read through the reworked part of your manuscript (yet again) and lo and behold, it's actually a cohesive story! (It happens every time but it still feels like a miracle). Spurred on by this success, you work extra hard to cobble those last few scenes together. And before you can even start to second guess yourself you cram it into an email to your agent/editor and press SEND. After blinking at the screen in disbelief for several minutes you get up from your computer and look around at the chaos of your house. You walk straight to the kitchen and pour yourself a glass of wine.

And that, my friends, is what revision is like for me. And it sounds terrible, but I wouldn't trade this job for the world.


  1. You're making me not want to get that email saying my book sold. LOL. But this sounds like what I've heard from other writers. And resembles what I feel like when I read critique notes. Haha.

    CONGRATS on finishing!!!

    1. It's so worth it in the end though, when you have a finished piece of art!

  2. Nice job, Ryan! Way to tame the beast :)