Revision(ist) History

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Book Pic_compressedI’m getting close to completing the 5th draft of the first novel I’ve ever actually finished writing. Yes, you read that right. @_@ F-I-F-T-H

Okay, It’s not quite as bad as it sounds. Draft 1 was completed in 30 days for NaNoWriMo 2012. 107,000 words in 30 days.  Well, you can imagine. It was rough. Draft 2 was complete 10 days later. I had a mission, you see. Avon had made a crazy offer to NaNoers in the Romance Forum. Get us your imperfect NaNo novel by December 10th and we’ll take a look. Too bad my manuscript was at least 27,000 words too long. I cut and slashed and basically turned the story into mincemeat, although I did take care to eliminate at least half of my typos and grammatical errors, if not the required number of actual words.

Draft 3 came after Avon’s Form Rejection, an attempt to rebuild what I’d ruined. I found myself a few beta readers who, needless to say, replied “Nope, not ready.”

At that point I gave up. Even though I’ve been writing most of my life, I simply didn’t know how to go about revising a novel. But people who’d read it kept asking me about it. Something had clicked. After a few months break, it started preying on me like a mutant alien in a recurring nightmare. I’d be weeding, or walking the dogs, and my characters would start…conversing. And they Wouldn’t. Shut. Up. By this time I’d waded into the Water Cooler at Absolute Write, so even though I still didn’t know how to revise, I gave it another shot, and then I got new betas. I still didn’t hit the mark, but this time I’d gotten some terrific feedback. Some direction. And a lot of support. I decided to try again.

Only now…now that I’m close to the end of 5, I’m dragging my feet. Somehow I’m mired in what is for me, a new and insidious form of procrastination: Procrastination by Doing Stuff. My usual procrastination style is, yanno, sitting back and not doing stuff. Fiddling. Twiddling. Ignoring. But yesterday I wrote an entirely new chapter. 3500 words worth. Bearing in mind I need to be cutting, not adding, this was dismaying in the extreme. I resorted to chardonnay.

One of my writer friends said getting to the end of something you’ve worked on for so long is frightening. I thought I was over that after 4 drafts, but no, apparently not. I have Other Story Ideas waiting on the doorstep, in fact they’re pressing their faces to the windows and tapping on the glass, but this unwelcome guest of a book won’t leave. “More tea, dammit?”

So now, this is me, putting myself on DEADLINE and using this platform for a good ol’ public shaming. One of two things will happen no later than May 6: my 5th draft will fly out of my computer and land in the inboxes of my newest betas, or…it’s the trunk for you, baby. This doggie’s gotta get a move on.

I know I’m not alone. Does your procrastination style have a name? Have you had revision nightmares? Share. We can all laugh and cry together.

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7 thoughts on “Revision(ist) History

  1. Hey!
    Wow. I can relate. I have been working on my WIP for about 3 years now. I’ve done about four revisions. Only one of them was actually me moving chunks around and all that. Me and some random guy decided we will be putting our ms out this year. Aaaand I’m scared I won’t meet the deadline. Sure, I got 7 months to go, but with all I’ve got going on, I’m scared that’s just not enough time. I got some people looking at it, and I’m scared to get it back because if I was able to find major things last night to fix, then I fear the betas will return my poor baby nearly dead. But I’ve always loved editing. I have a freelance job doing that. It’s always easier to edit the work of others, though. Two months ago I would have said I LOVE my ms. But now, like you, I’m getting to the point where other ideas are knocking at my door. I really want to start them, but I’ve invested so much time with my current baby already that I can’t abort it now. And I really do love the idea, so I will stick with it!!

    • I so relate, Karla. I’m worried about what I’ll do when I get my beta feedback, too. But that’s what some would call borrowing worries in advance, so first, I will finish the darn draft. Wishing you all the best in hitting your deadline and setting your baby loose on the literary world! 🙂

  2. Amen sister! Writing deadlines are crucial, especially this time of year when there’s so much to do outside! Thank you for procrastinating on my query – I am going to take your suggestion and tuck it away… A in the meantime tinker with the first few chapters! Here’s to a wonderfully productive weekend of writing!

  3. Only THREE DAYS TO GO, puppy – are you on target? Huh? Huh Puppy? HUH???
    *gnaws paws in anticipation*
    *spits out fur*
    *wipes bloody paws on puppy’s shirt*

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