Monday, April 11, 2011

I Hyate Revision (sic)

I had a friend at uni who was afraid of snakes. But being a strapping lad from Norn Iron, he never admitted he was afraid of them. He hated them. In fact, big Craig hyated them (down on the hyate, up on the them). And, really, being from Bangor, he was never likely to trip across one so I have no idea where this fear came from. But it was real. I sat next to him at the cinema, and could feel him cringe and cover his face and mutter, “I hyate snakes”. To man up, his fear was articulated in hatred, but bottom line, he was never going to own Raiders of the Lost Arc.

Last year, to the great hoorah! and brava!, I finished the first draft of my novel. It was a moment. I took pictures. I was very proud of myself. I read it, and thought, hey, this is ok. It needs some tweaking here and there, but it is nearly just fine.

I let it rest. Like beef straight out of the oven, I left it on the board to relax and finish cooking. And about six weeks later, I re-read all fifty-five thousand words, and thought, hey, this is, well, ok. It needs some work, but everything is going to be ok. And I picked up the knife, to carve it up, and was faced with the task of revision.

And once again, I laid down the knife. And I walked away.

For six months.

For the last six months, the printed copy of my novel found itself shifted round my flat, on the desk, in a stack in the bedroom, next to my chair in the living room, cozied up to the travel guide to Andalucia in a pocket of my laptop’s bag, and in more than one panicked moment, lost. Not that I was telling anyone.

After all, I was thinking about the story, if anyone asked. Yes, it’s requested material, but I need to get the opening just right. I need to work on the conflict. I have to go through and organize the chapters.

And then, I didn’t talk about it at all.

I’m fairly certain I’ve not actually bitten anyone’s head off when asked about my progress. But I’ve certainly shut them down. Because my manuscript is flawed and I don’t know what to do about it.

And I feel like such a failure. Ashamed that I’m not writing – or re-writing, as the case may be. Because I hyate revision. And by hating it, I don’t have to say I’m afraid of it. I don’t have to show my fear that my writing is crap and my story is, well, you know. By hating it, I can keep lazy track of it as it makes its aimless way round my home, the pages a little curled at their edges and a little gritty from the dust.

By hyating revision, I can say, yeah, sure, the draft is done, but it’s not quite ready to go to the editor. I’ll get it done.

It won't be long now.


  1. First, I have to say, the idea of cooked beef needing to "relax" . . . ick!!!

    But moving past that . . .

    As a writer, I'm always trying to figure out "my process" and with every book I finish (sounds like a LOT that way, hmm?) I learn more about it. Same with every book I revise which, unfortunately, hasn't been as many books as I've finished. LOL. Still, I wouldn't say I hate revisions. I LOVE them when they're going well. :-)

  2. I am right there with you Mx! I work so hard to get the actual draft done to think there is MORE to do makes me cringe worse that Y thinking about "resting meat". Alas, no good book goes without I shall pick the knife back up and get to it.
    Happy Revising!

  3. I find it is the not knowing where to begin that gets me - I actually am moving forward just now, with the help of Susan Meier's wonderful revision class, but boy has it been a painful process.

  4. I have thought long and hard about whether I like writing or editing and I think editing wins. I like to have something, even if I have to discard it and start over. But ask me tomorrow when the editing gets tough and I may change my mind. Also, for me, the longer I've been working on something, the harder it is to edit. I don't know if it's because I've moved in a different direction from where I started, forgotten why I did a particular thing or if I'm just sick of it. Probably all of the above.