Revision Grief Redux: We’re in this Together

In Business of Writing, Craft, General, Writers on Revision on January 29, 2010 at 6:00 pm

My facebook/twitter status this morning: gutted and slaughtered darlings everywhere. It’s carnage over here in novel revision land (said gleefully, like a serial killer!)

I try to make clear to my clients and students  that I am a writer too. A working writer striving her hardest to get to the same place as they are: published. My hope is that this makes it a little bit easier when I tell them what has to go, what isn’t working, and what I think needs to happen next. Because we all know it’s far easier to be a critic than it is to produce material.

Yes, I’ve published a bit already–two writing guides, one fairly big press, one fairly small, but I also dream of the day that my novel sells to a publisher. Or wait, let me rephrase that…I also dream of being published, send my work out for feedback from people who will be honest about what has to go, what isn’t working, and what needs to happen next. And I too curse, cry and moan until the feelings pass and the answers start to rise from the mist.

I am in the same boat as my clients/students. When they email me saying they feel discouraged by all the work ahead of them, or are sad that a chapter or scene just isn’t succeeding as they’d hoped–I FEEL their pain. I know exactly what they mean. When the novel my agent tried to sell to publishers didn’t sell several years ago but “came close” as they say when you receive positive rejections, I had to take a really long time to recoup that loss. After all, writing a novel isn’t something you can do in a couple of days. Slowly, painfully, I mended. I wrote another novel (and let’s not talk about the first four abandoned novels I wrote early on), ran it by several people for feedback, saw its potential and its limitations and made the tough decision to let that one go too. It wasn’t coming together.  Then I picked up a different half-attempted novel and tried it back on. And this time it fit me. I was able to finish a first draft that I felt good about.

The whole purpose of this revision series has been to bolster myself through the revision process of that novel. But let me point out that every published writer on the shelves, from the flash in the pans to the mightiest of success stories was on the receiving end of some serious feedback at one point or another. Each one of them had a cringe-worthy moment or several thousand where they thought maybe they’d never get “there.”

And the only way they got there was by realizing that writing IS rewriting. That the pain is good for you. That it builds something beautiful just like exercise painfully sculpts a beautiful body.

REVISE for Publication:

In honor of all this, I’ve decided to teach a new 4 week online class in April on revising your manuscript toward publication. It will contain strategies and tips for how to revise your work in the most effective ways, including self-soothing tips for the hard times. I hope you’ll join me.

Full cost: $159. If you register before March 15, only $129.

 Until I get the paypal link up and running, email me if you’re interested in registering: jordansmuse (at) gmail (dot) com.

  1. I saw that tweet today and got more than a chuckle out of it.

    Perhaps we should be called “Rewriters” instead of “Writers.”

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