Just last week, writer Christina Farley blogged "My Four Stages of Revision." It was so orderly, so efficient, so smart. At the end, she asked readers to share about their own revision processes. And as I started to comment, I realized my process was all over the map.
But just like Christina, people do ask me about revision. How many drafts, how long does it take, etc.
So, since I'm in the midst of
I'd like to start with last week (imagine going-back-in-time music here)...
Last week there was some serious big picture thinking going on. I had been inspired to return to Project Demo because of an idea I had to make the magic system work. So I'd been creating a list of all the magic in the book, pasting the text into my list, and working on making each passage believable and consistent. It was definitely a labor of love, as my list spawned other questions, other concerns. I had a really helpful Skype chat with Elisabeth at Fiction Forge (thank you!), and sent a chunk of text to a crit partner to read through.
By the end of the week, I finally felt like I was getting somewhere. I was beginning to believe in the magic. And I wasn't the only one. I got a gorgeous email from my crit partner:
"In every way it seems to work for me. Magic isn't usually my thing and I didn't know how you'd do it, but I really do think it's great and feels like it absolutely belongs in the story. Well done!"
Yay! But after weeks of changing one aspect of the magic, and then another, and then a third, I didn't want to move ahead until I was absolutely sure.
So I took some time off from worrying about the magic, and read the last third of the book. I hadn't touched it since this past summer, so I hardly remembered it. I hoped my last revision had left it fairly solid and that everything tied together nicely in the end.
Unfortunately, it wasn't, and it didn't.
After all my progress on the magic system, you'd think I'd have felt confident and ready to tackle anything. But instead it was like another massive problem, a blow.
I took to Twitter to whine:
"Feeling overwhelmed with all I need to do with Project Demo. I think I know what's wrong, but can I fix it? In less than a gazillion years?"
Thank God for Twitter friends and authors Keren David and Jane McLoughlin, who instantly replied.
Kerensd: yes you can!
JBMcLoughlin: You can and you will...the solution is hovering around you somewhere, waiting to be unleashed! Good luck.
We talked back and forth a bit, I whined more. Then Keren responded with this:
Kerensd: I find that fixing stage is my favourite. The relief as everything falls into place!
You're crazy, I thought. I'm not at that "fixing stage" yet. I might end up totally scrapping this ending! Nothing works! It's a mess!
Then, feeling thoroughly embarrassed by all my Twitter whining (and conscious how much time I had just spent procrastinating on Twitter), I signed off. I drafted a blog post on big picture thinking, and then realized, for all my big picture talk, I wasn't practicing what I preached. So I made a list of everything that didn't work in that last third of the book, scene by scene, chapter by chapter.
What happened next? Did I have to ditch the entire ending? Or was Keren right? Or did I get so distracted by Twitter again that I didn't do any writing at all? You'll have to tune in Thursday to find out!
In the meantime, why do you think writing is such an emotional roller coaster?