Monday, June 1, 2009

The Corner

Earlier this morning, I typed "THE END" on my revision draft. For newcomers, I'm working on a requested revision for a manuscript under consideration. No contract. Ha ha. Because every writer loves noncontractual revisions (even typing the words sends shivers down my spine).

This has been interesting process, almost totally unfamiliar to me. You tell me: ever had a revision like this?

The Stages of My Revision

First, I read the rewrite letter and think, "Holy Cow! Can I even do this? Is this possible? Do I even WANT to do this?"

Then I think, "The least I can do is try. Maybe I'll sell this thing. And even if it's not exactly the same book I started with, there's still a good book in there with the editor's revisions."

I'm an outliner, so I mapped out a general direction and started writing. Then it got interesting. It was going along OK at first, but then I basically chucked my outline and just started feeling my way through it. This was new to me. But I knew the world really well, and I knew the outcomes, etc. It was new, kinda exciting, and it meant I had to ask a lot of questions of my characters.

Then, BOOM!

My confidence just cratered. I mean bottomed out. And that's a weird thing for me. Truly, I'm generally a confident writer. I don't mean in the sense that I'm always thinking, "Ha ha! A masterpiece! A best-seller! I RULE!" I mean in the sense that I almost always know where I'm going, how to get there, how to move.

But I kept writing through it. I didn't talk much about it to anyone, and I stopped blogging or commenting on blogs. I just wrote my way through the worst failure in self-confidence I've ever experienced. It suuuuccckked.

Then I started nearing the end, and I gained a little perspective. I realized what was throwing me off: I wanted the book to "feel" a certain way. I wanted it to be immersed in a certain emotional vapor field, and it was close, but not there. And even this was an epiphany. I've never really approached a book like that. I've always wanted to make sure all the many intricate pieces fit together like a clock. When it clicks, I'm done. I've never approached a book and said, "I'm not done until I'm feeling you, oh my brother."

The cloud lifted. Weird. I know.

I'm finished now, and I don't love it yet like one of my own, but I think I can feel my way forward from here. I think I know where it still needs work, where I'm not being really ... well, honest with my story.

It's been quite a learning experience. Like I said, I've never approached a book like this before ... ever. I've never allowed myself to fall into that kind of black hole, and I'm really glad I pushed my way through and kept writing. That's one of the things I got out of this. And here's the other: just when you think you're comfortable with your process, there's a whole new level.


Melanie Avila said...

Do you feel relieved? Or are you still in that anxious place since it's not quite where you want it to be?

I've noticed a shift in my writing during this latest round of edits (which are taking FOREVER) and I'm trying my best to maintain that level throughout. This is not the time to slack off.

Congrats on typing THE END, even if there's still more work ahead.

LurkerMonkey said...

No, I'm definitely feeling better. :) I don't mind more work ... it just helps to have an idea of where I'm heading. And yeah, revisions definitely aren't the place to slack off. Grrr.

Melanie Avila said...

You know the mantra to allow yourself to write crap? I'm finally at the point where no more crap is allowed. I want this to be my final draft (after my readers see it, of course) so there are no more excuses.

Yes, tough indeed.