revising (or, making a mess)

Filed under: crows, Dear Thing, writing

I’m revising my book. On the upside, I love revising. It’s the chance to take my POS (Piece of Shit) manuscript and make it into a real, coherent, reasonably well-written story. The right-brain process of creation becomes the left-brain process of analysis. And I LOVE analysis.

On the down side, if I’ve started revising a book, that means I have to give it in soon. Which means I’ll be leaving this wonderful world and people that I’ve invented behind. It also means that for the first time, this poor little story, my waking dream, is going to be subjected to the keen eyes of my agent, my editor, and the entire team at my publisher. To say nothing of the keen and critical eyes of readers. This particular manuscript is the first one for my new publisher, Transworld, and it’s a new direction for me—not a romance, but more a relationship story between two mothers and a child. It also has quite a quick turnaround time ahead of it—I’m due to give it in next month, and it’s scheduled to come out in hardback in April. Six months is a very short amount of time in publishing.

So revision, in this case at least, involves quite a bit of The Fear.

However, one of the glorious things about revision is that I get to make an enormous mess, guilt-free. Here are some photos of my process thus far:


This is my manuscript. I wrapped it up in rubber bands and cling film to transport it from the US (where I had it printed out at The Maine Press because my parents’ printer is slooooooooooow). This was a good idea, because it meant that the ms wasn’t damaged in my suitcase. But it was a bad idea, because it is very very tempting not to unwrap such a tightly-packaged thing at all. But I did.

Going through ms and changing it

This requires certain aids.

Notes, chocolate wrappers and tea

When I’ve finished entering my changes into the computer, I chuck the pages on the floor. This gives me a great feeling of accomplishment.

That's about 230 pages revised.

And I also like to spread the mess around the house. BECAUSE I CAN! THIS IS WORK!

Not far to go now.

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  1. haha – love the look of your ‘mess’ Julie – my other half is scriptwriting and doing exactly the same thing with his latest revision. Personally, I also have the mess. But not the book – yet – but we’re getting there! This weekend with you in Reading will be the final stage before I too let it go off into the ether and hopefully get some joy in publication. Certainly had the best teachers! hehe!
    see you saturday!

    • Debbie: write the book and make the mess! Your OH needs to know what it’s like to live with someone else’s revisions. 🙂

  2. I love the mess. For all previous books, I’ve hated the editing part. For some strange reason I’m actually enjoying editing the latest one. Am now terrified that this means that I’m missing something glaringly obvious.

    Looking forward to Dear Thing. Sounds fantastic.

    • Maybe it just means you’re getting better at it, Rhoda? And what sort of weird job do we have when we get frightened when something is going right?

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