The hardest part about revising is wanting to add words and having to wait. Yes, wait. Sure, I’ve got the first global pass on the total WIP and I’ve managed to fix a couple of big picture problems more easily than I had anticipated which is a relief. I’ve even got some fabulous ideas about how to make this a bigger, lighter book with the depth it needs to go to a single title.
Ripping Out Word Weeds April 8, 2010
But I can’t act on the ideas because I’m not finished weeding out the words I don’t need. I am editing out the darker elements I had in the book and layering in lighter touches and/or marking the scene to do so at another time. I am also noting where I need to add scenes, and I am writing down all my brainstorming ideas into my trusty notebook. I have to be patient as I work through the scenes I’ve already written otherwise a good idea might not be useful OR I won’t know where to place my new scenes and my revised scenes.
It’s like gardening. First you have to pull the weeds, plow the dirt and add the fertilizer before you can plant the seeds for new growth. That’s what I am doing. Some writers give up at this point and move on to writing a new MS because the task is overwhelming. Then they might return to their WIP in revision and be able to work on it, but I can’t work that way. To me that would be like planting seeds for a new garden next to a weedy patch. And then the weeds in the old garden might overrun my new garden.
What would be the point? I’d have another weedy garden to fix.
Oddly enough, I had hoped to play with my new YA idea this week, but by the time I finish working all day on my revision, I have nothing left to draw from my creative well. All my energy is going into the revision. I’m not fighting it. I believe that if I do have a spark for the other idea, then I’ll run with it. My brain will know when it is ready to work on something different.
I’ve been down this revision path before. It’s murky at times. MS #3 took over a year to wrestle into shape. The book did get better with each revision, but the revising didn’t get easier. Even at the very end of #3’s revision, I went through it and picked out details that needed strengthening or finessing. Now I can play around with it to change the minor details and keep my mind focused on the 4th MS, but I don’t think I could work on a first draft of a new story without draining my creative energy. And I need my creativity to stay true to the task at hand.
I imagine published authors work on more than one book at a time, but I wonder if that is after they’ve really gutted a story and revised it. Line editing and tweaking is not revising. Revising is getting into the heart of the story and rearranging the way the story is pumped out.
I know I can’t revise this 4th MS forever. I need to get it to a point where I can say I’m as done as I can be and move on. I’ve given myself till the end of June. Maybe I’ll finish earlier. Maybe I won’t. I do know that I need a partial and a synopsis by June 1 for the MAGGIES, regardless of where the rest of the MS stands. Afterward, I need to know that the book I’m pitching has a solid plot. That the bones and muscles of this book are set and grounded. Then it’ll be easier to fine tune the story should an editor or agent request the full.
What do you think? Or are you able to juggle two manuscripts when one is major revision? And if you do juggle two manuscripts, do you feel you’re giving both stories the same level of effort? Or do you feel you’re short changing one of the stories?