Thursday, September 10, 2009

Revising: Why Does It Have To Be So Hard?

A couple notes first. My awesome friend totally pimped my blog tonight, (I have absolutely no blog pimping talent of my own), so thanks Jay.

Second, I got ANOTHER call yesterday. It was awesome to talk to another agent who loved Underground, but when I hung up my stomach clenched, and I realized I was going to have to make a choice. I spent all afternoon and most of the evening weighing the pros and, well, mostly just the pros of each agent and trying to decide who would be the best for me, my book, and my career as an author (wow, it feels weird to type that). Let me say, it was a really tough choice. Both of them are very nice people, both were super enthusiastic about my manuscript, and both are with very respected agencies. I knew I couldn't go wrong either way so in the end I just went with my heart. I'll sign the agency agreement next week, and after that I'll let you all know who I chose :)

Okay, back to today's topic, Revising.

Honestly, revising is the only reason I don't love writing all the time. Revising is difficult, it's messy, and it takes so much time!

Here's a story for you. I promise it has a point.

Last weekend my in-laws were in town. The last time they visited I mentioned to my mother-in-law that my girls blankies were getting kind of ratty (My mother in law is an incredible quilter-- this was a hint). So during this visit she got out the squares that she's been working on for their blankies. Incredible. They were butterflies made of like 20 little pieces of different colored fabric. She said that she wasn't quite sure about a few of the fabrics and she wondered if she should just discard those squares and start over again. Discard them! After hours of work! The suggestion made me absolutely sick until I reminded myself that quilting is her art and she wants the finished product to be as perfect as it can be.

Of course, this reminded me of revising. I revised for several months before I queried the first time. Then, based on the suggestions of an incredible agent, I revised again.

Some of it was painful. I had to throw out some perfectly good scenes just because they weren't perfect for the book. I would change one little thing that resulted in a domino effect of deletions and additions throughout the whole manuscript. There were a few parts I enjoyed, like writing new chapters and talking over new ideas with my husband as he tried to go to sleep. Most of it was hard. But, even though I didn't enjoy the process as much as I did writing the first draft, I could tell that the revisions made the book stronger.

I'm headed into a few weeks of agent revisions now. I know they are going to be tough but I'm also excited to see how they improve the story.

So you tell me, what is the worst part of the revisions process for you and how do you press forward when it gets tough?


MeganRebekah said...

Revising is both wonderful and the worst thing ever. I love the to revise a page or sentence and walk away feeling confident that it was done well. I hate getting stuck on a clunky paragraph and feeling like it will never get better. I hate that when I revise something there's not tangible evidence of progress (no higher word count).

And I'm 99% sure I know who yuo're signing with.... yay!!!

Tabitha Bird said...

Oh I love your blog! Can she pimp mine? Can anybody pimp mine? Anybody out there???

Revisions are tough because for me it is like going back through labor. You think you are done birthing that baby, but no wait, there's more. What keeps me going is the knowledge that something wonderful that I will be very proud of will one day be in my arms... um..hands...sorry, getting carried away with the labor analogy :)

Patti said...

The worst part for me is wondering if I'll ever get it right. Will that sentence, paragraph or scene ever sound as good on paper as it does in my head.

Nice blog by the way.

Lazy Writer said...

Like the new look here! Revising is tough. I've been doing it for the last few weeks for the tenth time, I think. I just last night removed one of my favorite scenes. It about killed me, but I knew it must be done. Congrats on making a decision about an agent. I hope to some day have that problem. :)

MattDel said...

I once heard someone say "Novels are not written. They are re-written."

Revising is definitely the suckiest part of what we do. I'm in the midst of rewriting my newest WIP (wasn't even finished with the first draft) because I realized I was writing myself into a corner. That's hard too because you have to be considerate about what you're writing and how it goes into the rest of the text.

I have a beautiful scene that I can't use because it's something my female MC would never say in her current state of mind. Even though it's hysterical. That's the worst part I think.

Jody Hedlund said...

Great new look, Natalie! You're doing a great job! And what a great predicament to be in, to have to choose between two agents! I'm sure it wasn't easy to make your decision. But it is certainly a testament to your talent. Great job! And yes, I agree, revising is terribly hard work!

Lilly said...

WOW Nat! This is all so exciting! I am thrilled for you! Good luck with your book! I can't wait to read it! We will be crossing all of our fingers for you!!