Revision Hell or Heaven?

stairs-735995_640I don’t blog ‘how to’ posts as I reckon there are a lot of good writing bloggers out there already and there isn’t enough room for any more advice. I regularly go through my email subscriptions as if I did read every piece of advice on writing, the writing would never get done! What I do share is what works for me.

Now January didn’t turn out quite as I planned, if you want to know more pop over to My Writer Within where I write regularly about the life behind the writer. But no matter. I’ve started ‘How To Revise Your Novel’ with Holly Lisle who has developed a very methodical approach to revising first drafts. I’m not going to go into the detail, because you need to pay for that. Having got to week three of the twenty two week course I’m already beginning to see the light. But it isn’t easy to look at. In fact, at one point I almost threw my first draft into the bin. All 80,000 words of it. To be fair, I was told that it wouldn’t be easy, we’re warned that this is tough stuff and revising is tough. The writing is the easy part.

All writers need to invest time (and a few quid even though most of us are pauper poor) in their writing. It is a profession after all, and comes naturally to very few.

“I have rewritten — often several times — every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.” — Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory, 1966

So why is it hell?

  • Firstly my default when it comes to revision is to dive in, fiddle with this, change that, hunt for typo’s.
  • The course is structured to stop you diving in and fiddling and at first it seems like a ton of work. And it is. Revision is hard.
  • It’s showing how bad my first draft is. As many writers will agree, although we know we do write rubbish, most of us have some dreamy notion that it will all fall into place magically.

I’m generally an optimist. In fact, I’ve recently signed up to the belief that my cup is neither half full or half empty; it’s refillable. So I’m convinced I’ll find some heavenly streaks of light.

  • I’ve already realised how I might put some of this revision process into place before I write the first draft.
  • I’m not alone. There are many good writers on the course who all struggle so it’s not just me. That’s comforting in itself.
  • There is method in all the madness, that out of the muddy depths of my work in progress there is a story in there. Not all is lost, in fact it will be a better story when I’ve finished.
  • And in truth? I’ve paid for the course, so I have to get something out of it. I want to learn. Writing is not a gift.

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”
—George Orwell

So I shall continue to sweat blood and have serious doubts about my writing, but I’m banking on becoming a better writer at the end of the course.

Next time I will be giving details about my next publication and how I got on with designing its cover…

Until Later,

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