Monday, June 30, 2014

Revising = Land of the Lost Writers

I haven't posted for a while because I haven't been doing any writing prompts--after a six week hiatus from my first manuscript, it was time to go back and start revising that sucker.

I was hugely optimistic--writing the first draft had been easy, almost magical at times. There were parts where I struggled, sure, of course, but overall the Muse was on my shoulder whispering in my ear. So I figured, hey, surely writing the darned thing in the first place is the hard part, and the revision should be easy-peasy, right?


From what I gather, every writer is different and has to learn their own rhythm. But as a rule of thumb, I hear tell, the faster your initial draft goes, the longer the revision takes. And that certainly has been true in my case.

My inner writer was given freedom to frolic by NaNoWriMo--the philosophy during that month is that you don't have time to edit yourself as you go, so your inner editor has to be bound and gagged and stashed in your linen closet while you jump into the hedonistic binge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. As it turns out, I like that unbounded approach very much, and for 2.5 NaNoWriMos now (two regular and one camp), I've been unexpectedly, blissfully prolific.

But my inner editor holds a grudge. He didn't care much for being trussed and abandoned, and when I pulled him out, his stiff muscles put him in a very, very bad mood. Let's just say resentments were made.

I pulled out the manuscript, and with my inner editor back on the job, realized that never in the course of human events has such a steaming pile of crap ever existed. Ever. I also hear tell that this is not an uncommon experience--but it sucks nonetheless.

Another thing I've learned about myself is that I'm just not a very good multi-tasker when it comes to my writing. I'm not a good multi-tasker anytime, truth be told, but it's really bad when hey was that an ice-cream truck I just heard go by? I'd sure like to have me some ice cream. Wait, where was I? Oh yes. I am not able to revise for structure and pace and narrative summary and dialogue and character development and anachronisms (it's mostly historical, my novel) and knock out those cliches and those pesky adverbs and line-edit all at the same time.

As it turns out, I can barely do one of those things at a time. I finished my first revision, which focused on basic structure and pace issues just a few days ago. Then I picked up my second draft to do my read-through, all smug and happy and ready to pat myself on the back for my much improved product. But not only is it fraught with all of those things I haven't revised for yet (and, somehow, more typos than I had when I began), it also still needs work on pacing and structure.

That was not a happy moment in my personal canon of moments.

Don't get me wrong--it's better than it was, a lot better. But I just had hopes that it would be better than it is. A lot better.

Ah well, such is life. I suppose the more time I spend complaining about it on the blog, the longer it will take me to turn it into something somebody somewhere wants to read. So I'd best power the blog post down, and go get on with it.

But those stories about the authors that take 30+ revisions to get their books finished? That is looking less and less silly and more and more optimistic.


Michelle xoxo

© Michelle M. Chouinard 2014 All rights reserved.