Renovation and Revision Chaos


Anyone who has ever undertaken a home renovation project knows the utter chaos that descends on the household.

This week my son’s family has been replacing interior doors and casings, and all the flooring in the house except for the basement. Carpets and vinyl in three bedrooms, the main hallway, living room, dining room and kitchen – everything has been torn up. Furniture and appliances are shuffled from one room to another trying to stay one step ahead of the floor layers.

On home makeover TV shows, the family moves out until contractors have created a pristine new space. In reality, most homeowners simply live in upheaval until the job is done. It might not sound so daunting, but try being a family of six, including a special needs toddler, a part-time working mom, a dad who is a work-at-home business manager, a teenager on the eve of her graduation prom, and the inevitable cat and large dog, all trying to function in the same spaces that are being torn apart. As I said… chaos… and at some point, despair. Will it eventually come together and resemble the original dream?

It’s likely that many of us undertaking a novel revision experience a similar sense of despair during the process. The first draft has such promise, but after critical examination we discover potential changes that would make it so much better. Or perhaps an agent or editor sends pages of suggested alterations designed to improve structure, plot or character development.

We tear apart our carefully constructed story, removing undesired elements and adding new ones, trying desperately to maintain the integrity of the original plot. One change necessitates another, continuity is jeopardized, and there is so much more work than we anticipated.

Remember the axiom that says it’s always darkest just before dawn? Remember how installing beautiful new hardwood floors requires tearing out the old floor covering first and moving everything else out of the way? Novel revisions are no different. Yes, it gets messy, but the only way to create the well-crafted story we envision is to have a renovation plan and work systematically through it.

The end result will be worth the chaos!

Are you one who likes to leave well enough alone when you settle into a home, or do you like to personalize, redecorate and renovate? Do you enjoy or dread novel revisions?


11 thoughts on “Renovation and Revision Chaos

  1. Re: home renovation. I’ve only moved into one house that I had any options on redecorating, etc., and my husband and I have done a lot of it recently. I HAD to redecorate; the interior was probably fashionable in the early 80s!

    Re: novel revision. I’m torn between dread and excitement. I know what I need to do about revising characters and plot, but it’s hard to know how to do it. I read James Scott Bell’s article in Writer’s Digest about revision, and his techniques have been helpful!

  2. Holy geeesshhh that looks a lot like work 🙂

    Love to re-decorate/remodel. Well, let me rephrase that…my wife likes for me to re-decorate and remodel.

    The home we are in now, we have completely redone. Floors, walls, kitchen, windows, roof, doors, etc etc. We are down to the one last project…the master bath which I just have no desire to redo….just yet.

    Love your post. and PS…your Nucks are looking good!!!

  3. Brooke says:

    Timely post for me 🙂 We’re tearing out two walls and putting in new floors later this summer. Rebuilt part of our roof and attic last summer. Still in disarray! But hopeful. I haven’t written a book yet, but I’m finding on the blog that if I let it sit awhile and go back later I find all kinds of things to improve on. The hardest is to delete a sentence or paragraph that I thought was so “clever”, but doesn’t really fit. It’s almost physically painful …. But I feel so much better after I get rid of it 🙂 Thanks, Carol.

  4. elderfox says:

    Sunshine today!!! Have to agree with Joseph…it’s Dd that loves to re-do & decorate…even if the place hasn’t been lived in (as the new condo we moved into) and of course having done it, even before the laminate flooring, painting, lighting, window coverings, new hardware, Premier bath, we are thinking of our last home where everything had been DONE . . . why did we move????
    As for writing…I start revisions way too early….and can’t seem to clean up the mess it creates, so, unfortunately, it never seems to get done!

  5. joylene says:

    We built our house, lived in a travel trailer until the weather forced us inside. The drywalls weren’t up yet. What a mess. Chaotic? You bet. We didn’t have our kitchen installed yet. That was almost 20 years. How time flies. Today I’d like to replace the flooring in the loft, and interestingly I am putting it off. Experience has taught me to shy away. Too bad.

    I’ve renovated a few manuscripts in my time too, and you’re right, Carol, it was also painful and messy and chaotic. I took a moment every so often to breathe, but I have never enjoyed the process. I’d even hire someone else to do it if I could. But I know it’s worth the trouble. The end will make me proud, I hope. The work will give me a better novel. I guess the thing to learn is to enjoy the moment, renovations or no renovations. And to laugh. That’s more important than the nails.

  6. Margie says:

    We have renovated just about every home we have lived in, and done most of the work ourselves. It is amazing how much we have learned!

    We pretend Mike Holmes is looking over our shoulder – if something is worth doing, it is worth doing right!

  7. I like moving things around, both in my living space and in my novel. It’s fun and rewarding. I change the furniture around in my living room two or three times in a year. I feel as though I have a new home when I make it all look different. (Renovation is extreme moving. I wouldn’t call that fun. 🙂 But surely it is rewarding.)

    I want to revise my my novel again, but I haven’t had time to tackle it. The truth is that since I began my blog, there hasn’t been any time for my novel. I may have to take time off from blogging to revise it.

  8. It’s great to get all your comments today, thanks. Seems like you’ve all done your share of either building, remodelling, renovating or redecorating, all of which should make you experts at revising! 😉

    Carol Ann, I agree with you, blogging takes up a lot of time. But it’s an important part of developing our online relationships, so we writers have to find a balance. All blogging and no writing defeats our purpose. It’s worth figuring out a schedule that accommodates both.

  9. Tricia says:

    I must personalize, paint, plant, whatnot. I’d rather decorate than revise anyday.

  10. S. Etole says:

    I appreciate your visit … I love to redecorate but do it rarely.

  11. Tricia, it sounds as if you like to make your mark, but in colour rather than words. I’ve seen pictures; your home is beautifully personalized.

    And Susan, thanks for stopping by with your comment. Your blog is a place I like to frequent. Both your photos and their pairing with exactly the right words is wonderful!

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