Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Numbers don't tell the whole story

As I suspected, since my last post on revision goals, the lead-up to Christmas was a no-go zone for writing.

I left off at 21% revised on December 12, and there it stayed until yesterday. The good news is that I blasted through another 7% since then.

This leaves me way short of my original target of 50% by the end of December, but that doesn't tell the whole story by a long way.

I'm a lot happier with the process than I was a few weeks ago, because I think I'm getting better at deciding how to handle critiquers' comments. The Critique Circle inline comments feature makes is easy to compare everyone's comments on the same paragraph to look for trends. My triage process is also getting slick, sifting through the line edit nits and weeding out more serious feedback: Yep, suggestion makes sense (usually accompanied by a "Doh! Why didn't I think of that?" moment); Nope, it already says what I wanted it to say; Hmmm...you have a point, rework paragraph in my own way (and maybe preceding/later paragraphs too); Or deeper edit needed - park the thought for the next pass through.

I'm glad this process is getting easier, because I can now see light at the end of the tunnel. It was threatening to become a chore and my attention was becoming torn.

On the one hand, I desperately want this puppy to see the light of day, and every adverb culled, every paragraph tightened, every plot hole filled, is a necessary step closer to publication.

On the other hand, I have three other projects vying for attention. I've been in revision mode far too long, and I am desperate to get back to some real writing.

How about you? Do you ever feel this conflict between the seemingly-endless polishing of "completed" work, and getting some new words down on paper? Do you ever find yourself so stuck in the revision doldrums that you despair of ever again writing an original scene?

20 comments:

  1. I enjoy the editing phase. I have three awesome critique partners who all see something different so no aspect is missed. And they are usually right!

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  2. Yes, yes, yes! That last paragraph? Exactly where I am.

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  3. Alex, I envy you! I have great critique partners too, and no complaints about the feedback. I just find it tough going using it.

    Carrie, you have my sympathies. Please let us know how you get on!

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  4. I feel your pain. Editing is tedious. Even worse, there have been times when I thought my piece was polished to its highest shine. Then, when I returned to it after a month or so I found other mistakes. The problem I have is knowing when its good enough to send out. Best of luck with your edits. Wishing you all the best in 2012.

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  5. At first, I thought editing was fun. What was I thinking?! After months and months of it, I itched to write something new, too. I feel your pain, but you'll be done soon!

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  6. Andrea, all I can suggest is do the best you can, then send it out, but don't exhaust your agent list in one go. If you don't get a nibble after a while, step back and see if you can spot what's not working.

    Lindsey, right, what were you thinking? :)

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  7. Just before Christmas I began my first serious edit. It came to a screeching halt for the holidays but I'm excited to get back to it. I'm less frightened by the idea than I was, but still nervous :-)

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  8. Having just finished a long stint in the editing zone, I assure you, there is light at the end of the tunnel. And new things to write. Your other impatient projects will still be there.

    Think of it this way, all the time you're putting into weeding through those crits and figuring out why people said what they did and how to better convey what you meant to say, will make writing the next project a little smoother. Those projects will benefit from a little waiting in the wings. :)

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  9. Nervous is OK, Sarah, as long as it doesn't overwhelm you. Good luck with your edits.

    Jean, that's good to know, and also a good perspective to put on it.

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  10. I tend to need to get in a total editing frame of mind or writing, I find it hard to swing between both. I've got some editing to do that a publisher suggested for my teen novel and then I need to decide if I'll edit my other novels or start writing something new.

    Good luck with those edits! And happy 2012 :)

    Wagging Tales

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  11. Charmaine, that sounds like me: writing, editing, critiquing...three different mindsets, and they just won't mix in my mind.

    Happy New Year to you, I guess you are already well into 2012 by now.

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  12. Happy New Year and best wishes to you in the coming days. Hope we all find success with our writing projects!

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  13. Seven percent is awesome! Have you finished it yet, or are you trying to get it perfect before it's done?

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  14. Danette, I echo that wish to all our writing friends. All the best for 2012!

    Donna, the novel is finished (I assume that's what you meant). This is just the latest of many rounds of revisions.

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  15. Hi Botanist! Yes, I feel the same. That is why I've got 3 novels in various stages of incompletion. I enjoy writing flash fiction the most, so maybe I should stick to that. Longer works take a lot of dedication and sacrifice, but I do intend to finish/polish/submit one of my novels in 2012. Maybe on Dec 31st, lol!

    Denise

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  16. Good luck with finishing and submitting, Denise. Hope you have success with that. Dec 31 still counts :)

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  17. I went through a phase where I was constantly revising. I think this happens because of continual rejections from agents. You keep trying to make it work. Once I Indie published this cycle stopped. However, now there are other distractions. :)

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  18. I find the editing phase way more frustrating than the first draft phase, and yet I like it because I'm that much closer to my vision of the work.

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  19. I have to thank you Steve for talking about Critique Circle. I joined it today and it's amazing, I've spent a lot of time reading some amazing stories...

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  20. For me, the real part of writing is the revision. A rough draft is just that - drafting. It's a blueprint and, like a blueprint for a house, it's nowhere near finished. I actually prefer revision over drafting bc for me, the 'pushing thru' part is done. Now I get to tinker and play and make it all pretty. :)

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