Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bitching and moaning about revision (what else?)

As I have mentioned before--several times--the revision fairy is not kind to me.

I love first drafting.  It's free and spontaneous and fun.  Revision is like pulling teeth.

I am approximately 1/4th of the way through my first round of revisions of my novel.  My goal is to start submitting it to agents/publishers by June.  I am...not even close.  My new work schedule has been hard to adjust to; it was easier, for me, writing between 7 and 9 am than it is writing between 7 and 9 pm.  There are a lot of changes to be made.  A few of them are minor things, but a few of them actually change the story somewhat (primarily, the relationship dynamic between the hero and heroine).  I'm moving stuff around, so I have to remember to take it out of the story later.

But what's really frustrating about this is that I don't feel anywhere close to FINISHING.  I don't even feel like I'm making any progress.  Back when I finished the first draft on December 31, I had a complete novel.  It may not have been perfect, but it was a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.  What I have now feels more like...Swiss cheese.

I think I need a new plan of attack.  The hitting things up in order worked for awhile, but it's not helping anymore.  So I'm going to send the latest draft to my Kindle, read it again, and figure out the "big things" I need to change.  I'll hit those scenes first.  Then I'll go back through again and make little tweaks: continuity errors, repetitiveness, etc.  The frustrating thing right now is that I know where I want to go (kind of), but I feel like I'm not getting there.

I also, probably, need to rotate my revision with some new first drafting.  I had always intended to do that, but haven't managed to sustain it thus far.  It's hard for me because I suck at multi-tasking.  When my mind is on one project, it's hard to switch over to another.  I think it's the same type of limitation that makes it difficult for me to write stories out of order, no matter how much that intense climax scene is poking at my brain when I'm only 20 pages in.  I'm right-brain dominant, but my left brain is kind of a pest and won't leave me alone unless I do all that silly creative stuff HER way.  But I think breaking up the monotony with some new characters and new worlds will help; I have spent almost a year nonstop with my current crop of homocidal (but loveable) freaks!  I've had some ideas bouncing around in my head recently, so maybe a little bit of writing just for writing's sake will help me out.

Last week, one of my favorite writers, Carolyn Crane, posted a blog entry with writer Layla Messner about having a preference for first drafting or revisions.  Layla, like me, was in the first drafting camp, while Carolyn strongly prefers revisions.   She says that she imagines there's a "hidden perfect story" within the first draft, which she's getting closer and closer to finding.

I think that's my problem right now: I feel farther away from an end point than I did when I finished the first draft!  Maybe because "the end" of revisions is a lot harder to define than the end of a first draft.

To top it off, my back is killing me at the moment.  Not the kind of debilitating pain that prevents me from moving, but the kind of annoying pain that just makes things difficult.  The last time I strained my back like this was last August, when I made the mistake of trying to carry a shoulder back with a computer and a weekend's worth of clothes with me while walking to work (a 25-minute walk).  But I can't figure out what caused it this time...though I'm sure sitting in yoga-like positions on desk chairs (a bad habit I developed in high school and never managed to break) probably doesn't help.  So yeah, it's just annoying and making me a bit irritable.  Painkillers and I don't get along very well, either.  Rather than killing pain, anything opiate-based tends to make me look and feel like I'm auditioning for a role in a remake of The Exorcist.  No fun.

So for now...I will go re-read my manuscript, again, and I'll figure out how to approach my revisions, again.  And hoepfully by Monday I'll be feeling better, mentally and physically.


Anonymous said...

I hope you feel better soon!

I tend to agree with both views - first drafting is a little more fun but I like tweaking a story so it's more right. Good luck with the revising.

Take care,

Beth Woodward said...

Liz--I think a lot of what gets me about revising (versus first drafting) is that there isn't a defined end point. You can keep tweaking and tweaking into perpetuity. Whereas with first drafting, you're done when the story's done. Revision just seems to spirial out of control for me.

Thanks for stopping by :-)