Monday, January 26

About revisions...

          Oh, my gosh, I love revisions.

          Last week and the week before, when I talked to my editor—a couple of times; he had a lot of things to tell me—I kept saying Really? in a squealy, whiney, don’t wanna do it voice. I know I did. Not that I’m proud of that particular voice, but since I’ve been hauling it around my whole life, I may as well own it. And I said, at the ends of these conversations, “Okay, I can do this. Thanks for the help.” And then I hung up and looked at my laptop and said Really? in a squealy, whiney, thankfully silent voice.         
          Then I went to work. And I have had, it must be said, some of those stone days we talked about last week. I have stared at the screen of my laptop until dust motes danced merrily before my eyes before settling into the bunnies under the desk. I have chewed my thumbnail down to an uncomfortable nub. I have done laundry before I had a load, washed dishes by hand, and cooked meals when there were leftovers to be had. I have thought, I can’t do this. I may as well call and renege. Because I...just...can’t.
          I also had some days that were diamonds. I had lunch with friends, dinner with friends, saw some of my kids, went places with my husband, sewed on my youngest grandchild’s quilt, and laughed every day. More than once. And I wrote some, revised some, thought Maybe this will work. Didn’t call and renege or even want to.
          And then there was this morning. It is Sunday, when I never work on the manuscript, when I look at Facebook and email and maybe work on the Word Wranglers post and then go to Sunday school.
          Except today I didn’t go to Sunday school, because all of wonderful sudden, it worked. No maybe about it. Nope, it really worked. This does not mean my editor will be as thrilled as I am. He may say No or Try again or What were you thinking? I can’t control that. But for now, it is fist-pumping time, because of course I can do it—I just did!
          I love revisions.
          Have a great week!

Liz Flaherty

32 comments:

  1. I think I hate revisions so much because I have to admit I was wrong and my editor was right. It always turns out to be a better story. I then tell myself, that's why she makes the editor bucks.
    Good luck on that project, Liz!

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    1. Thanks, Sandy, and I admit too that it's sometimes a hard pill to swallow.

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  2. I don't love revisions. I *like* revisions, but I don't love them. Mostly because I don't like to be wrong and revisions mean that I got something wrong, I took a character in a bad direction or maybe didn't dig deep enough...or maybe didn't complete her journey (which is the case in the current revisions I'm dealing with). BUT, even though I don't love them I have those fist-pumping moments when I see how much the book has improved, when I realize that the second time around I'm doing better by my characters...

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    1. I think loving them is--like so many other things--age-related. Because I don't mind being wrong anymore. I would mind if I stopped trying or refused to admit I was wrong (who, me?), but wrong just means doing. I can deal with that. :-) Thanks, Kristi!

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  3. I love revisions, too! It means somebody cares enough about my work to want it to be better, better, best. And where else in life do we get multiple do-overs? And, yes, those magical moments when the necessary changes come to life and become organic and inevitable ... Those moments are priceless!

    Marian Allen, Author Lady
    Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

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  4. I love revisions because I have had an editor tell me to delete what I have written and start over because I was way off base. When an editor helps me improve my skills as a writer I see it as a compliment. I may not agree with the revisions at first but later I see how their input has helped me become a better writer.

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    1. I've had that happen, Carolyn, when I was unable to see the improvement till much later--long after I had finished pouting! :-)

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  5. Mine depend on my rapport with my editor. I've had five different ones, and four of them I didn't mind the revisions; they made sense and I usually knocked them out in a few hours. But the fourth ...holy hell...I disliked her from day #1, though I tried to be nice and revise, but some days I'd have rather had a root canal. Thankfully, I only had her for two books, and the second time went a little better. I've since heard from others they don't like her either. I also had one that insisted I change a certain line and a few other things, but I felt so strongly about it, I questioned my 1st editor, who told me she 'must have been using a 2nd grade editor's manual'. I told that editor I'd take the heat if it garnered criticism, so she left it. No one complained, and two years later, when I rereleased it with anther publisher, I sent the original file so we could edit it PROPERLY. So really, it boils down to rapport with editor and how much you are willing to accept their changes. I'm looking forward to my next round, coming very soon:)

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    1. I think a lot of it does depend on that, Molly. I've only stood firm a few times, but I've also been editor-blessed. There have been a few bad experiences, but some of it had to do with lack of experience on my part AND the editor's.

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  6. Once I get over the initial embarrassment (What? I didn't get it perfect the first time?), I love revisions. While I write, I have SO many places where I wonder if I did something right. It's a great relief to have an editor read it and and say "yes" or "no, try this instead".

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    1. It is a relief, isn't it? I still remember the first hard-copy edit--it looked as though someone had bled a gusher on--I swear--every page. After that, it wasn't shocking anymore. (Though I've been horrified a few times, as in, "Really? I wrote that?")

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  7. I think my toughest editor is my CP. But, she has a nice way of easing me into them. Emails in advance saying things like, "You need to work on his motivation for this or that." and "I'm at the cop scene, and I'm making a LOT of notes. Real cops would never...blah, blah, blah." So, by the time I get the actual manuscript back, I've stewed over the major problem area and come up with solutions. I'm ready to sit down and review what needs to be done and hit the edits. I think getting a critique in bits and pieces really helps to not overwhelm us. Maybe we should notify the publishing industry about this profound bit of wisdom! LOL

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    1. It does help. There's nothing better than a good CP!

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  8. I recently had to do a lot of revisions on one of my stories. At first, I was devastated, but they were pretty easy to accomplish. I'm still waiting to hear back if it'll be accepted though.

    Good luck, Liz!

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    1. Oh, I hope it is, Chrys! Good luck back atcha!

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  9. I too, love revisions. At first glance I cringe. I call myself every known name from Hollywood hack to bad writer, and then I roll up my sleeves and get to work. I do trust my editor and know she's almost always right. Somewhere about mid-revisions I begin to see the shine on the page and the work aspect slides away and excitement for what this story can be emerges. I live for those moments. :)

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    1. Those moments (like mine yesterday morning) do make a lot of struggle worthwhile! Like you, I doubt my skill sometimes, too, but we're both wrong. :-)

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  10. I may be naive, but I like input from editors with my nonfiction. I think I would like the chance to make detailed revisions as presented by a fiction editor. Instead, I've been dragging my feet on making some revisions that I feel are needed, but am uncertain of what exactly is needed. Perhaps you could think of getting a fiction editor's "advice" as an achievement, of sorts? lol

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    1. I like the input, too, Cathy--although less if it's negative! And you're right--it IS an achievement. A few weeks ago, I was still sweating bullets over whether the book would sell. I will say this, though, as a caution: don't overthink things. It's easy to do and hard to avoid, but sometimes it's just time to say "This is it" and go on.

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  11. I tend to love revisions, so much easier than staring at that blank page in the first place. And invariably, revisions almost always make the book stronger. One exception, my second book from Kensington, where they made me take out some important historical facts that gave the story perspective. For the most part, though, I like revisions.

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    1. It's too bad when you look back and realize you were right all along. It might validate you, but it also makes you regret that the reader doesn't know it should have been better. If that makes any sense at all. Thanks, Hebby!

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  12. Oh my goodness, Liz! This happened to me on a Sunday in early December. I'll never forget when my editor called and said, "Grab a cup of coffee and a notepad." My heart dropped, and I feared the worst. I'm still laughing as I told her I don't drink coffee in the late afternoon, but ripped out a blank sheet of computer paper to listen to her "words of wisdom." After I hung up, I ranted to my husband and started to cook dinner. All of sudden, inspiration and my muse broke free. I was cooking and writing notes at the same time. Two days later, I had completely changed a chapter for the better. I yanked, pulled, and made it so much better. But first, I had to shove my emotions out of way before I could even start. Thanks so much for sharing and yes, I do like revisions--99% of the time.

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    1. I admit, Mary, they often go down easier with coffee!

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  13. For me, the coffee would have jolted my nerves even more, Liz. And after reading what I wrote above, I'm hanging my head in shame at the left out words. Good grief! What would my editor say? ;)

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    1. LOL. It's all good, and I won't tell.

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  14. I love that moment when everything clicks, and you sail through your revisions. Thrilled for you, Liz!

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    1. Thanks, Reese. It's days like that that keep us going! :-)

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  15. I love revisions when I'm "in a flow " and everything's good with the writing, but when I'm struggling, it's all hard work!

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  16. It IS hard work, Arsoleen, and sometimes it just doesn't go anywhere, but oh, when it does!

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