Monday, May 13, 2013

What a mess!

Revisions, revisions.



It's a little like cleaning out a closet. You start out with great verve and enthusiasm, but you reach a point when the house looks so much worse with everything strung out than it did when your mess was tucked behind a closet door.

I've been inhabiting a Revision Cave for a while now, at least two weeks. The sad fact of life is, even after selling several manuscripts, I still have revisions to get through.

And this revision letter? It's a beaut.

It's not that I disagree with my editor's insight. No, on the contrary, my wonderful editor Laura Barth put her finger on several things that, if fixed, will make SECRET SANTA stronger.

My husband, bless his heart, can't understand this. He asks, "Well, they bought the proposal, so why don't they like it now?"

I try to explain. "Have you ever rented a movie because the trailers looked so good and the back of the video was interesting, and then you got it home and you thought, 'Huh, this isn't as good as I'd hoped it would be?'"

The answer to that one would be a yes, and I knew it when I asked him. But he still doesn't quite get it.

I do. And I don't mind. I appreciate an editor taking the time to help me make my work stronger -- I've read too many books where it read as though the editor just phoned it in. These days, an editor is doing more with less -- and it's a hard job.

Do I wish I could hit it out of the ballpark every time? Shoot, yeah. I wish every word that came from my finger tips was golden, that it made readers laugh and then weep and cash registers ca-ching.

That's not real writing, though. Real writing, as my first writing teacher told me, is re-writing.

Revision equals its parts: re + vision -- to view something again -- and if you haven't taken that WIP apart and put it back together, if you haven't pulled out all the contents of that closet and strung it out, then it's probably not ready for primetime. I know that I'm infinitely grateful to have this opportunity!

6 comments:

  1. I like what your teacher said--it's the truth of it, isn't it? That being said, I love revisions, because then you KNOW what the editor wants. :-)

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  2. I love revisions too:) While they can sometimes be ego-blowing, especially if an editor disagrees with a part of the book you love, the editor always seems to be right and when I re-read the final version, I'm sooo much happier with how it turns out. A new eye and perspective on any book can make it better. Also, I'm blessed with an agent and an editor who also points out the good points along the way and those smiley faces help soften the blow of the not so smiley-face notes lol:)

    xo
    Jen

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  3. Cynthia, every word the truth. I try never to be welded to any of my words, and I worry about writers I meet who don't want a single word in their work changed. And some people have a gift I believe, of getting it right the first time. Sigh! Roz

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  4. Cynthia, you nailed it! Revisions are so important in crafting the best story possible. The skill of good revision is critical to every writer. Laura is my editor too and she is so insightful. It's a blessing to have her keen eyes and talent dedicated to our pages! I can't wait to read Secret Santa!

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  5. Cynthia - I love Christmas book, so I, too, am looking forward to Secret Santa. I admire your philosophical approach to revising. I usually read my revision letter, grumble a lot (after scores of books, you'd think I'd understand exactly what's required of a romance novel, but I don't. Out of 89 books, only one didn't require a revision.) pull it all apart, resisting all the while, then somehow the process of adding, deleting, and reassembling, makes it into something better. (But I don't understand the editorial mind that can see that!) I also hate the fear that I'll miss a spot that should be affected by the changes I've made. There again, though, the editorial mind seems to find those. Amazing.

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  6. It always amazes me to see the insights an editor brings to a story. Things that made sense when I typed suddenly have plot holes or is trying too hard. A good editor is a wonderful find!

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