I am 40% through my first revision. It’s like walking through mud towards an amusement park and it’s the only way inside. Why? Because instead of pushing through until the end (that thing I keep encouraging people to do) I went back and rewrote and rewrote until my fingers bled. The chapter I’m fixing right now has been revised at least a dozen times. But it’s necessary to go through it and make changes. Because I know the character now. I know who she is and what she’ll be become and where she needs to come from.
At the same time, part of me believes that all those revisions were worth it. My original version of the main character was wrong. It wasn’t her story. And the second version wasn’t quite there. And then on the fourth or fifth time it stuck, and I knew it was right.
But I still have three chapters of deep sticky mud that want to pull my boot off and leave me stumbling on one foot. And when I get through, I’ll find out if all that quick writing resulted in something worth keeping. What if it’s awful? What if it was just the joy of finishing something that makes me think it’s good? Guess I’ll find out. And even if it’s awful I have the experience within me to know that I finished something. That it’s possible. That I can do it. Like Harry Potter and his Patronus, I’ve seen myself do it so I know it can be done.
So what’s next?
Once my first revision is complete (perhaps by the end of next week) I’ll hand it over to my wife to give it the first read through. She’s an incredible writer. She’s critical and unforgiving. She’ll let me know what’s broken and what needs fixing before I send it off to anyone else. Next, I’ll make any changes and then send it off to my friend Juliana Brandt (an excellent writer who loves world building as much as me). She’ll go deeper, letting me know what she thinks as a writer and a reader, what’s missing, what’s boring, where it needs development and any other changes she thinks it needs. I pretty much give her freedom to tell me whatever she wants because all of it is solid gold. I’ll make the changes I agree with and then take it to be printed for hardcore fixes to grammar and any additional edits. That’ll be a semi-final draft that I hand off to a small group of beta readers (non-writers, mostly) to give thumbs up or down. Anything they didn’t like as a reader. If necessary, I’ll make changes. Then it’ll be printed again and the grammar will be checked again and again until it’s perfect and polished and ready to send to potential agents. And that’s when the stressful stuff starts and everything becomes real as hell and I’ll want to hide under my desk with my phone, hitting the refresh button on my email box until it breaks.
And then it’s did I get an agent or didn’t I. And I don’t know if I can think about that, yet…