I’ve been struggling with revision for years. It used to be so easy – before I was struck with the necessity of getting an entire novel ready for publication. I’ve read so many suggestions. Some go-getters advise only two edits – one for correcting typos and getting rid of excess verbiage, and one for adding details. Others say a novel should be revised ten times or more! What’s a novelist-in-training to do?
It appears that since there are so many methodologies of revision being promoted, we who are writers must go by our own instincts to know when our novels are ready for submission. Personally, I prefer to edit more than just twice. I’m on my fourth revision of my novel, and this is a major one. I’ve added several scenes. I’ve cut entire paragraphs without regrets. I may try to combine two chapters soon. I’m not sure about that, but I’m considering it, to make the introductory section of the novel move faster. I’ve never done these things before and for me, it has been a nightmare to learn it.
Maybe if I cared less about my novel, it wouldn’t hurt so much. Somehow I’ve picked up the feeling that touching my novel is scary because I might scrap something that should stay. Or keep things that should disappear forever. Either way, it seems that what I’m facing is an irrational fear that I may be incompetent to revise effectively.
The truth is that I’m very competent as an editor. I’ve been working for the last six years as an editor for a small town news business. Yet when it comes to my own novel, I’m having a terrible time getting revisions done. At this point, I’m somewhat desperate. I need to get this project off the ground because I have quite a few other novels begging for my attention.
I believe after the first novel is edited, revised, and done with, it will be easier to do the others. I’m just sorry it took so long to get the first one done. (I wrote it in 2001, in only 17 days!)
I know that the opposite of fear is love, so my plan, to overcome this irrational feeling, is to love my novel into readiness. And that’s realistic. I truly do love this novel. Every time I read through it, I enjoy it and am pleased that I wrote such an unusual novel for children. But there are so many tiny details that must be coordinated to make the novel work perfectly. I’m probably going to finish this revision soon and find other people to read it through. I need another person’s perspective to let me know if something is missing or out of place.