Taking the Slow Road

Posted: October 20, 2016 in Writing
Tags: , ,

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So I’m doing a targeted and substantial revision of my daughter’s and my middle grade novel.  I mean, another one.  The first one was actually an R&R (Revise and Resubmit) requested by an agent who had read our manuscript, and for that one I felt compelled to get the revisions done in 2 months.  I wanted to have time to consider and polish the changes the agent requested, however I also didn’t want her to lose interest or think we were non-responsive.  If we were going to have a professional relationship with this agent, I wanted her to see us as professional and reliable.  And we got the revisions done in time.  The agent still didn’t sign us, which I understand is not uncommon.

This time, though, our revisions are based on some feedback from a CP (critique partner) and an editor who generously gave us a three chapter critique, which together pointed out some key issues and offered similar ways to fix them.  So, like many of you have done or will do, we’re holding off on querying for now and taking on a full-manuscript revision, chapter-by-chapter.

But this time we’re taking it slow.  It didn’t start out this way.  In fact, at first I imagined I could get the new revision done in few weeks — after all, I had already been down this road once before.  But the more I examined all the ways these changes in chapter one were going to affect all of the following chapters, the main character’s emotional arc, and the tone of the book as a whole, the task of revising stopped resembling cosmetic surgery, and began to resemble a brain transplant.

There’s a scene in the 1984 movie, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, where the hero is performing brain surgery, and says to his assistant, “No, no, no — don’t tug on that. You never know what it might be attached to.”  That’s exactly what this revision feels like. Except that I have to tug on things, and even rip them out completely.

Rebuilding is going to be a delicate operation, and I’m inclined to take my time at it.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  I think there is a perception in the writing community that you must produce all the time and get so many words down every day. And if you make your living entirely from your writing, yes, that may be true.  But for the rest of us, we need to get it right.

So if you are inclined to take your time but feel pressure or guilt, I’m here to support you. Slow and steady wins the race. It’s okay to take your time, as long as you continue to stay engaged.

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Comments
  1. Frank Kresen says:

    John:

    If, when you’re finished with the brain transplant, you need simple, high-quality/low cost line-by-line copy editing, contact me.

    Like

  2. Annelisa says:

    I took a couple of years doing my ‘slow revision. I think it paid off. Keep on keeping on 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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