Seeing Your Work for the First Time

Crucial revision supplies: MS, red ink, tea. Personal photo by Adrianne Russell.

It’s that time again…revisions. Dun, dun, dunnnnnnn!

Actually, the more I think about it, when isn’t it revision time? Somehow I’ve managed to build a small stable of WIPs over the past few years. I’m always tinkering with something and struggling with which story should get attention and at what time and in what amounts. It’s exhausting! Is this what the husband from Sister Wives feels like?

Currently, I’m revising AFTER THE JUMP (round #2) and being highly amused at the gobbledygook that survived the first pass. My first edit was quick, mostly for grammatical errors and to tick it off my to-do list. I was trying to get it ready for printing using my NaNoWriMo coupon from Createspace, but I realized I didn’t really want to print that version of it. I wanted it to be completely finished. That meant taking another more invasive (and often painful) crack at it.

So this time around, many, many more words have died a fiery death and new scenes have risen from their ashes. Run-on sentences are being trimmed, characters enhanced, and stakes raised. It’s hard to explain how much it hurts sometimes to cut things. You slave over these words, spend hours birthing them like literary babies. Hard as it is to accept, it must be done for the greater good.

A really great English teacher told me that when revising you have to act like you’re seeing your work for the first time. You have to temporarily divest yourself from all of those tricky emotions that hold your work hostage. If you can maintain objectivity (try imagining you’re the reader instead of the writer) then the work can only get better.

At the end of the day, all I want is to produce work I can be proud of. I want someone to read it and know that I gave my best effort. I want to be a writer who constantly strives to improve her craft. I want my hard work to show. Revising is where it starts.

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12 thoughts on “Seeing Your Work for the First Time”

  1. Funny thing, while writing my first novel I thought editing was going to be the worst thing ever! I am now in the editing stage and . . . I love it! I think editing is a ton of fun! Crazy how that works. Anyway, best of luck!

    Konstanz Silverbow
    nothouoghts2small.blogspot.com

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  2. Oh, those nasty WIPs — always begging for attention. I have the same problem, trying to set priorities (it never works), being seduced by new ideas. The lot of a writer is a hard one. But revision, yes, it’s the lifeblood of good writing, even if it does sometimes feel as if it’s costing your lifeblood. And objectivity is the most precious skill you can develop.

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