Revision is a bitch, with a capital B!
I once wrote a post about the differences between revising and editing a manuscript at (https://romancingthegenres.blogspot.com/2015/08/revision-and-editing.html)
Those actions require two different skill sets and produce two different levels of pain.
Revision means changing scenes, moving action around, adding, subtracting, modifying. Change pieces from act 1 to act 2, or act 3 to act 1 and make sure the inner and outer journeys both align with the new story. Reset turning points, possibly even changing motivation and the moment of epiphany.
I have spent the last three weeks revising COURAGE, my middle grade manuscript that required almost a year to originally craft. Three weeks to change almost everything except the main character’s name.
My editor at Harper Collins is the sweetest, most patient person imaginable. Smart too, because most of what she suggested ended up as spot on improvements to a story I considered complete and immutable when I first typed “The End.”
The last three weeks were literal “nose to the grindstone” days as I revamped things starting from page one. I lived, ate, breathed the story. I have to be one of the few women in the country that has yet to see Wonder Woman (that changes tomorrow) because I barely came up for air. (I did take an hour for a massage last week, I needed that more than I needed air.) I seriously don’t know how people do this with hundred thousand word missives. Mine is sixty-eight thousand words and almost two hundred fifty pages. I nearly went insane.
This is actually my second run at revising Courage. I first tackled it in March. Unfortunately, I also had some severe life issues during that month. Really unimaginable, and while no one died, in some ways things felt worse than death. I’m not a person who shares every part of my private life and tribulations on social media, so I have not and will not go into detail. But I did speak to my doctor and he prescribed an anti-depressant which I took. People who know me would understand exactly how bad things had to be for me to go there.
Anyway, I tried to soldier on through the revisions. I actually got something done and sent a new version back to my editor by the deadline. Now this is why I say she is both sweet and patient because she never told me how bad that version was. She even tried to find something nice to say about the crap. I found out it was crap after the medication took hold and I went back to look over the material I sent her.
Dear God in heaven, I had never read anything so poorly crafted in my entire life, and that includes my first drafts which no one ever sees except me. I could not belief what I had written, and that I had actually sent if out for someone else to read. I’m surprised she didn’t send the thing to the wastebasket and demand her advance back.
I wrote this nicest woman on Earth an apology for having made her wade through that version. Fortunately, she already knew some details of the family issues I had to deal with at the same time I was trying to work on revisions. I may not post my personal issues to the world, but I do tell people who need to know. And she understood.
So now I have turned in the second revision, after being in a situation where I could dedicate myself and my sound mind to the effort. Two new characters, a change in motivation for one of the exiting characters, several new scenes and an entire new ending, along with the deletion of almost ten thousand words. The version I sent back after my March catastrophe had grown, I think in my depression I was adding things in but never taking anything out, even if the material was contradictory.
Anyway, it’s over, for now. After sending it back last night to meet my deadline, I perused selected scenes this morning. So far, it looks good and not the mess I had to cry over before.
I don’t know if there will be more before we get to editing. In the meantime, Wonder Woman. Tomorrow.