Saturday, February 09, 2013

Dispatches from Revisionland: A Progress Report

For the last month, I have been mired in the revisions of my newest book. This part of the process for me is both the most agonizing and the most rewarding. But mostly agonizing. Here's what I am up against:

1. I have no title. I just don't. And so every single time I open the document, I am staring at a blank page before I scroll down to the beginning of the remaining 320 pages. This is doing something to me psychologically. I am tempted to give it a placeholder name just so I don't get that sinking feeling in my gut every time I open the manuscript. It's like a nameless baby.

Any suggestions? (Maybe something about a bridge?)

2. Today I realized the timeline was screwed up. Not irrevocably, but enough to cause me a significant amount of grief. The novel takes place over the week leading up to Hurricane Irene's landfall in Vermont. Well, all this time I thought the rains came on Saturday. Guess what? It was Sunday. Sunday was the day. So now I have to create an entire day's worth of events to make it work. And no, I can't just push the whole book forward a day...because one of my damn characters has swimming lessons on Friday. She couldn't possibly have them on Saturday because the pool is closed. Alas.

3. I am still figuring out how and when to offer the big twist/reveal. There's this horrible thing about knowing more than your reader does. It's like keeping a secret about a surprise party and worrying that whoever you are trying to surprise has already figured it out. I'm crouched down in the dark waiting to jump up, but worried that somebody's going to say, "Don't bother. I see you."

4. Sorrow. There's a lot of sorrow here. And there are dead animals and bad moms and mean friends. It's hard to go into this book and not come out feeling a little bit helpless. Of course, the plan is that things will get better...but not at page 220. That doesn't happen for another 100 pages.

5. Self-doubt. Every single day I second guess every single sentence. I don't trust my instincts. I think it sucks.

6. The Vacuum-Effect. I am the only person in the world who has read even one word of this book. These characters exist only in my head and in this document. Nobody in the world cares about them yet except for me. This is scary.

7. Other more interesting things. I am not sure why this happens, but when I am at this stage of the novel-writing process, I have a million ideas for new books (better books). Well, maybe not a million. But three. All I want to do is buy a fresh notebook and start writing the next story. But I can't. Not yet. 

Anyway, my plan is to complete a good draft by the end of this month. I know I am close. I think I am close anyway. That means 20 pages a day until next week, and then 25 pages a day until the 28th. Until then you can find me here. At the computer. Blogging when I should be revising.

5 comments: said...

Covered Bridge? SO many beautiful ones were damaged in that storm. Too obvious? Used many times before? said...

Or Bridges Uncovered

T. Greenwood said...

Great thoughts! (I am so terrible with titles....thank you!)

matthew paul said...

........don't overthink it! There is a reason why you have the words you have written down! Trust your own instints and look back on all the last books and worlds you created for validation and inspiration. Be proud and know you are headed in the right direction. Sorrow doesn't have to be depressing because sorrow has the destinct flipside called joy...and that particular kind of joy is different because its deeper and more appreciated because of where it came from.

T. Greenwood said...