February 7, 2011
Learning to revise, turning a sloppy first draft into a slick and punchy story, is the thing that helped me get published. It hasn’t really gotten any easier, because every story has its own idiosyncrasies, its own structure and quirks, so needs its own solutions to make it a better book. Every single time, I despair that it will ever come together.
My subconscious has all the same weird verbal and organizational hiccups it’s always had, that I have to fix on every single rough draft. That never changes — going over the rough draft and feeling absolutely mortified that I let anyone look at this. I appear to have used the word “looked” about 9,000 times on this one. That first draft spew is going to be sloppy, there’s just no getting around it.
Revising means working on the thing for six hours and ending up with exactly the same word count I started with. I have to remind myself I actually have made progress.
There’s a famous Dorothy Parker quote: “I hate writing. I love having written.” I actually love writing. I love that first draft where I’m discovering everything and getting lost in the story. For me, I hate revising, but I love having revised, because I know how much better the book is after.
Back to work now…