The Ecstatic Agony of Revision

In Craft, General on January 26, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Right now I’m embarked on Draft Two of my novel-in-progress. I’ve been trying all morning to come up with analogies for the difference in the feeling between each draft.

Writing the first draft is hard, but smooth, like running on a treadmill–it’s not as easy as walking, sure, but it goes in one straight line…it flows. There’s no series of editorial road blocks to hurdle over. I can make notes to myself like “come back to this later” and “research this.” If character motivations are unclear, I can “deal with it later.”

Draft Two, however, is like obedience training an unruly, wild, but passionate dog. You know there is a good, loving, perfect little dog inside, but it’s going to take a lot of time and tricks and setbacks to get there.

I love how our guests so far in the Writers on Revision Series have addressed both the agony and the ecstasy of revision. I want to thank Hope Edelman, Ellen Meister and Susan Henderson for sharing their wisdom. I think there is even greater reward in the revision process than the first draft gush, but it takes also a greater faith to get there. You have to believe in yourself, muster the courage to see what isn’t working and not take it personally when it isn’t.

I say over and over again to my clients that writing is a craft. Not a science, a craft. As in: the more you do it–consciously–the better you get at it.

But just like exercise or dog training, first you have to feel the burn before the reward.

Wednesay I bring you Maria Schneider, of to talk about the revision process from the editor’s point of view. She expounds on the idea that writer and editor are in a relationship and that both must learn to respect each other’s work.

  1. How did I miss this whole series?
    I need to work out my feedburner thing-a-ma-subscription doohickey!
    But first…back to that revision.

  2. You wrote: “You have to believe in yourself, muster the courage to see what isn’t working and not take it personally when it isn’t.”

    Wise words for the weary. Thank you!

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