Plowing Through the Poop

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!


 *Inner Critic 



3 thoughts on “Plowing Through the Poop

  1. Shari says:

    It’s so hard at that “this-is-total-crap-why-am-I-even-bothering” stage. 😦 But chin up. You’re almost there! And I bet when you’ve had the chance to let it sit for a while – instead of being completely immersed in it – you’ll come back to it with fresh eyes and you’ll rediscover what you love about this story.

  2. heatherpianist says:

    Um, maybe you could give my students a lesson in this poop stage, as most of mine don’t seem to know it exists and then I’m forced to slog through it all. Sigh.

  3. Careann says:

    Welcome words of encouragement… thanks, Shari. I know much of the problem is that I’ve worked on this ms for too long and I want to move on to something new that’s percolating in the back of my mind. But my “finish what you’ve started” upbringing won’t let me quit until I’m truly done. Hopefully that will happen this week.

    And Heather, my sympathy. I know crappy writing can be as burdensome to read as it is to revise. 😐

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