Wednesday, June 2, 2021

The Insecure Writer and Dealing With Revisions


Today is June's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

What makes me an insecure writer this month?

The tedious process of revising my debut manuscript.

It’s not as if I haven’t already edited the heck out of my novel over the past five years. It’s been through two critique groups, and I’ve gone through it myself so many times I practically have it memorized. In fact, I felt it was in good enough shape to schedule a copy edit with a professional editor. All seemed to be good.

Then I sent a copy to a beta reader who has some experience with urban fantasies (Thanks, Loni).

Unfortunately, she found a few problems in areas I hadn’t considered. I won’t go into a lot of detail, but she basically had a problem with both the protagonist and the antagonist. Arg! Nothing that can't be fixed, mind you, but some of those fixes will require major modifications to the story and that’s what’s setting off my insecurities.

I’ve always had difficulty making changes to scenes I felt were essentially finished. Once I have the scene the way I like it, I have a hard time imagining the scene happening in any other way. It's a mental thing. I’m making my way through my manuscript, tackling scenes one at a time, but it's slow process. Changes in one scene often necessitate making changes elsewhere in the story. My biggest fear is that after I finish all these revisions, the professional editor will come back with all sorts of new problems, requiring yet another painful rewrite.

And I thought writing the first draft was hard.

June's question: For how long do you shelve your first draft, before reading it and re-drafting? 

Maybe this isn’t the best way to write, but I’m constantly going back and editing chapters even as I’m working on the first draft. Since I’m such a slow writer, however, it may be six to twelve months before I return to a chapter I’ve already worked on, which gives me plenty of time to look at the words with fresh eyes.  

Take care everyone, and stay safe!