Revisions are like spring cleaning—a task that I despise and avoid at all costs.
This revision really sucker-punched me. Just as I thought that I would see the end (I had about 20 pages left and I thought I’d finish that evening), a nasty, unbearably insistent thought crept into my mind. The order was all wrong.
So, in a fit of passion, I ripped my revision to shreds, opened a new document, and reconstructed the pieces of my manuscript into a new narrative.
I’m starting to think of the manuscript(s)—all of them, really—as an entity, rather like a human being. Or more like lots of human beings together in an unpredictable landscape that constantly changes… Those beings and that place meld together into a single life force.
That life force, the manuscript, breathes and thinks on its own. It has a will more powerful than mine, and it is not altogether benevolent.
We fight. Most often, I lose.
Revision, then, is like the catalyst for the evolution of said manuscript (i.e. life force). As with most catalysts, it also has its own properties, and it will yield an infinite set of possibilities.
My job is to weave my way through those possibilities.
It’s a journey that has no pathway, full of darkness and fraught with dangers—the most terrifying of which is that my very own composition of self seems at stake.
I’ve thought a lot lately about what exactly makes up this entity I consider to be me. And I’ve thought a lot—separately—about what I wanted my novel to be.
Neither line of thought does much good, so I try to push the meandering ideas aside like the dog hair tumbleweeds that clutter the floor—but like most issues that are the source of worry, they are not easily silenced.
I wanted my novel to be about A, B, and C (imagine, here, what those letters could represent)—it exists, and it breathes, but it’s about X, Y, and Z (create your own ideas, as long as they are the polar opposite of A, B and C) instead.
And yet, despite the blizzard in March, the spring will come. Despite the mess I’ve made of my manuscript, a newly constructive narrative is emerging with its glossy green leaves.
What I did accomplish this week is a second revision of a novel that is almost definitely better than the first draft.
And for today, as I hold out for spring, I will count that as a major accomplishment.
Ashley: 1 Manuscript-Destroying-Revision-Monster: 0
I’ll take a win any day, in whatever form it comes.