Another Dispatch From the Revision Cave

It’s been two weeks since I last checked in, so here I am! I’m still chugging along on my revision, still juggling work commitments and dance rehearsals and other responsibilities while my head is filled to the brim with thoughts about my book. Revising is still going smoothly—though as I approach my deadline, the nerves are starting to kick in. Am I making the right choices? Will my editor like the changes I’ve made? Am I getting closer to having the final version that will be on bookshelves in a little over a year? I know this draft won’t be my very last, and I know that my editor’s job is to guide me along the path. Still, I’m feeling pressure to Get It Right. The good news is, when I take my editor and the publication process and potential future readers out of the equation and just look at the BOOK, I do feel that it’s getting stronger. My editor is pushing me to dig deeper, to fill in the gaps, to make my characters as three-dimensional as possible and the world that they live in as realistic as possible. To draw readers in from page one and make them care. And I think it’s working.

Over the weekend, I was thinking about a revision like this as a closet cleanout. In particular, I was thinking about the last time I had to go through my closet in my old bedroom at my parents’ house. I’m a bit of a packrat when it comes to things that have memories attached to them. Or things that I haven’t used in ages but might one day need or want again. At the same time, I don’t love clutter, so I like to keep packrat things out of sight, filed away in boxes or drawers or baskets so the whole area looks relatively organized and neat.

Here there be...skeletons?

It’s easy enough to do a surface clean when you keep your clutter organized. It’s easy to dust and vacuum and straighten the shelves. It’s also easy to open a box or a drawer, poke around in it, and say, “Eh—this stuff isn’t bothering anyone. I’ll deal with it later.”

This revision has been about the stuff inside those boxes. This has been the nitpicky, meticulous revision. The one where I have to open each drawer, set out all of the items stored inside, and decide if I truly need those things. In some cases, I do—but I have to justify why. In other cases, they’re just not necessary. Right now, I’m doing editing work I avoided—or didn’t yet realize I needed to do—in earlier revisions. I’m doing work that I couldn’t have done without the organizing and sorting and surface cleaning of previous revisions. When I finish, I will have the neatest, most organized, most streamlined closet—er, manuscript draft—I can produce.

And then my editor will come in and ask me if I really need those cross-stitch patterns from when I went through my sewing phase in middle school, and I’ll hem and haw, and probably ultimately decide she’s right. And the book will be even better for it.

Did this metaphor get away from me? I blame revision-brain. (And I didn't even get to the part where, when cleaning out a closet, you have to make the mess much worse before it gets better!)

So back to work. This manuscript won't be done until it's done—and I can't wait until I get to share the final product with all of you. :)