Friday, June 15, 2012

Why Revision Really Isn't Evil

What has been the biggest surprise about writing/publishing your book? What has been the most enjoyable or most memorable aspect?

I, like most writers, grumble a lot about revision.  It's hard work!  You have to look at tons and tons of words that might have taken you years to get on paper in the first place, then decide which of those words deserve to live and which must be destroyed with a broad stroke of the delete key.  If every aspect of writing a novel is like playing God to your characters, revising is sort of like the big flood -- destroying everything, saving a couple parts, rebuilding the planet.  Scary stuff. 

Anyway, the thing that makes revision awesome is that there's some kind of magic involved.  Answers that seemed completely out of your reach and hidden behind some kind of fog suddenly materialize and start making sense when you start revising.  You realize that you know the answers to all of your questions. 

That was the most surprising and delightful part of writing/editing for me -- the feeling where I could approach a problem and suddenly know and understand how to fix it.  Things that I would get hung up on for hours (or days...or months...) in the first draft, I figured out a way to muscle my way through.  I'm not saying it was easy, but it was definitely easier than when I was facing a blank page. 

Which is yet another reason to finish every single draft you start.  A finished, ugly, awful first draft is full of exciting possibilities.  You can't do much with a story you haven't actually written.

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