It isn’t always this difficult. I’m talking about manuscript revision — the re-evaluation and rewriting of material that originally flowed effortlessly from brain to keyboard but now has to be picked apart and put back together again, bit by painful bit.
First drafts develop creatively from ideas given free rein on the page. Revisions happen after we’ve settled into our favourite chair to read through the finished product and come to the conclusion that it’s a whole lot of poop. In her book, “Bird by Bird“, Anne Lamott chooses to call it a “shitty first draft”. Poop or shit, it’s a mess. I think most authors admit that their initial creation requires some additional crafting before it’s ready to be launched into the public eye. Mine requires a lot!
Normally I enjoy the challenge of revisions, plowing through the mess to unearth the nuggets worth keeping and nurturing. It’s satisfying to reshape and refine a crude vessel into something better.
I’m almost finished what I thought would be the last revision of my current novel, but I’ve suddenly bogged down. I feel mired in mucky details and I’m tired of dealing with them. The feeling is familiar. It turns up along with my IC* every time I near the end of another novel.
“This really is poop, you know,” whispers the little voice. “It’s boring and nobody will ever want to read it. There’s the garbage can. Toss it in and forget it. You know you want to.”
Yes, I do. But I won’t. I’ll slog on to the end of this final chapter so that when it’s really time to move on to something new I’ll know that I’ve given my best effort to clean up this current pile of poop!