Revision Doesn’t Have to Hurt

Author Photo, Undisclosed Location
Today is the first day I revise my novel.

I woke up at 5:25 a.m. after a ragged night’s sleep, expecting to feel groggy and needing a nap later on, but it wasn’t like that. It was bright-eyed excitement, roaring heart and mind urging me out of bed. Come on, they insisted, you’re going to get a kick out of this!

Breakfast, tea, morning pages and essay complete, I set up a huge pot of coffee, raised the blinds all the way to the top for loads of light. The huge table at the undisclosed location is spectacular wide open space for the sprawl of paper, books, computer, notes, trinkets and trash — and a steaming mug of excellent coffee.

I can’t wait to get into it — and can’t believe it.

I can’t believe that’s true — but it is. Revision is supposed to stink, be so horrifically bad that writers spew drafts that they either don’t finish or never go back love them into strong, supple prose.

I’ve been that writer, for more years than I want to admit. All those reports, essays, creative work, presentations were slammed down at the last possible minute, hurled face first at deadline, across grievous consequences of failure.

No one is waiting for this story.

That isn’t true. I am waiting for this story, so happily imagined, drafted, and put to bed.

The protagonist and important others can’t wait to see what happens next, especially the sweet, sharp-witted woman in the basement. What of Woofie? What of the twins?

Writer and characters will find out together, at the same time. I imagine a moment of stunned silence. Then it gets loud — and rambunctious. Someone will walk out. Someone else will introduce themselves and offer a few helpful hints.

We need this story more than we know.

So, into the revising. Like I said, I can’t wait. Coffee is ready, guide books are at my side. I don’t necessarily know how to do this, but I’m ambitious, willing to do whatever is necessary.

Maybe the world isn’t waiting, but someone is. I’m the first one in line — and doing my best to make it worth the reading, hoping it reaches the others who need it, too.

I’m leaning hard on a quote from Nalini MacNab, a reader/responder who provided: “When we know what matters, what matters manifests.”

I’m going to manifest revising with the smallest hope that another writer will set out on their own strange, scary, marvelous trail.

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