The revisions cave is a dank, lightless place. Discarded commas lay all about. Plot holes open up like gaping chasms. Dialogue that never quite landed in the right way juts up from the floor. Stalactites of deleted scenes hang overhead, threatening to fall back down into the manuscript, because oh my God is this important? Will readers not understand what’s going on if I don’t include it? Is it even funny? Or remotely engaging? WHAT WILL BOOKLOVER097 THINK??
That, if you couldn’t tell, was a little window into the last month of my life.
The reason this blog has turned into a tumbleweed-laden wasteland is because I’ve spent the past few weeks editing the manuscript of the second book in the Croak series, Scorch. And I’m really happy with how it turned out. But I’ve found that the only way to do a good job on revisions is to devote your entire life to them, morning, noon, and night, and wow I don’t think I’ve eaten a single vegetable in weeks.
I don’t mean to hate on revisions. They are ENTIRELY necessary. The problem, I think, is that they’re so daunting. Every single time I submit a draft, I get it in my head that it’s good to go – okay, you send it off to the printers, and I’ll don my sandwich board and go stand out in front of the bookstore and start hawking it. Yet every single time it comes back to me with feedback – from my agent or editor or sometimes, somehow, my milkman – and then it starts: the five stages of grief.
Now, I don’t mean to seriously compare the trials and tribulations of messing around with a Word document to losing a treasured loved one, but I have to admit: the Kübler-Ross model is remarkably applicable to the editing process. Consider:
1) Denial – “Well, she clearly don’t know what she’s talking about. What is she, a highly insightful, seasoned professional? Wait. Dammit.”
2) Anger – “I’d like to see HER sit in her pajamas all day and come up with this Sistene Chapel of a scene!”
3) Bargaining – “Okay, I get what you’re saying about the cute puppy not being integral to the story in any way and needing to be cut, BUT, what if I make him a werewolf?”
4) Depression – “Hey, a bottle of bleach! Hand me that wine glass.”
5) Acceptance – “Okay, FINE, I will make these changes. And they will make the book infinitely better, as they ALWAYS DO. And I will have FUN doing it, and I will fall in LOVE with the end result. SIGHGRUMBLEGRUMBLE.”
So yeah. Revisions:done.