The Road to Revision

So today it finally didn’t feel like a convection oven outside, but I couldn’t enjoy it because I’ve been inside sick the past couple of days. I’m thinking it stemmed from too much time in the aforementioned heat. I imagined I had the Vapors (where’s a fainting couch when you need one?) because that sounds a lot more glamorous than heatstroke, but I’m sure I looked as grimy as I felt.

Anyhoo, it seems like it’s tapering off whatever it is, so I want to devote time this week to reading, writing and revising.  I’m in the final revision of ‘TIL IT HAPPENS TO YOU and that is very exciting! I know there’s always room for improvement but I’m not sure I can polish this one any further. So many unnecessary words died that I almost had to give them a moment of silence. I love drafting because that feels really creative but I’m starting to feel like there’s a certain amount of artistry required to dig into all those drafts and pull out the good bits. It’s like eating shellfish: a ton of work, but you can’t beat the payoff.

It really helps me to step outside of the work and treat it like it’s not mine. I don’t want to get so fond of my own writing that I’m afraid to make any changes, but I also want to remain mindful that I don’t slash and burn at the expense of voice.

Here’s an example of what I’m working on:

 Pre-revision

I’ve been at this for a couple of months, and right now I’m weary.  The best thing about it so far is JP.  He lives in the largest house on the block, which is really saying something in Waverly Heights.  Astrid and I met him on our daily walk.   He looked so scruffy, sitting on the stone retaining wall, smoking, that I figured him for one of the help, like me.  He offered a smoke and I was dying to take one since Astrid had been riding my nerves all day, but I knew she’d rat me out if I did.

Post-revision

I’ve had this job for three months and the money’s great, but the best thing about it so far is meeting JP. Astrid and I saw him on our daily walk. He sat on a waist-high stone wall surrounding the biggest house on the block. He was so scruffy I figured he worked for the lawn service with his faded jeans, beat-up black Chucks and dingy yellow t-shirt.

But all that aside, oh my god, he was beautiful. Like no one I’d ever seen in real life. Sleepy eyes like melted fudge bars. Dark brown hair that kept falling in his face. Stubbly, tanned cheeks that I wanted pressed against mine. Wide mouth that made me shiver as it slowly dragged a cigarette, exhaled, smiled, and said hello.

I’m totally biased but I like the revision better. 🙂

So do you like the revision process? Any tips on making it relatively painless?

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13 thoughts on “The Road to Revision”

  1. I get the impression you work somewhat the way I do — get the bones of the story in place, and then add the flesh that makes them live. I doubt there’s any way to make revision painless, but it does have its rewards. I sometimes feel a thrill when a boring or awkward section suddenly comes to life. For me, that’s what writing is all about.

    We should form an association for the restoration of “vapors.” I’ve always loved that word.

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    1. Thanks for putting that method into words. That’s exactly what I’m doing. It’s so cool when you can excite yourself with your writing. That’s the feeling I’m looking for! And I’m totally down for bringing back vapors.Let’s do it.

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  2. I tackle revision in phases to make it easier. I focus on content first. Then I go through and check for consistency and passage of time. Then I go through for grammar, spelling, etc. After that it’s off to my betas and comes back to me for more revisions.

    Good luck!

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  3. I love the revision — the description of JP is short but oh so rich and telling.

    “Wide mouth that made me shiver as it slowly dragged a cigarette, exhaled, smiled, and said hello.”

    This is so vivid. Love love love!!

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  4. I loved what you did with that excerpt!
    The thing I like least about revision is that it never seems to stop. I’ve only recently discovered that sharing my work really helps me move forward with it! Getting input really makes it less painful. 🙂

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