Saturday, August 3, 2013

Why Drafting Rocks Revising Out of the Water

I love the dramatic cloudscapes of New Mexico's monsoon season.

So, in this week's cage match throw-down over drafting vs. revising, for once I get the last word. That's because I was crazy helping my folks move last weekend and the always-helpful Veronica stepped right up to swap places with me.

It's getting a bit uncanny, how much alike James and I are. I'm glad he copped to feeling like something is wrong with him, because I'm there, too.

I really hate revising.

To me, revising means I screwed up the first time around. Yes, yes - I know you are are shaking your heads at me, perhaps fondly, more likely in irritation. But the truth remains that, in my heart of hearts, I believe that if I got the damn story correct the first time around, I wouldn't have to go back and fix it.

You have to understand that I'm also the girl who literally does crossword puzzles in ink (pencil is way too vague and smudgy). In college, I composed all of my papers on my Brother Correctronic typewriter (a blast from the past for all my fellow pre-PC folks out there) and turned them in that way. I learned early on to never go back and check my answers on exams - as the common wisdom instructs - because, if I changed my first answer, I inevitably changed it wrong.

I don't like getting things wrong.

Oh yes, this is compulsive, likely obsessive, perfectionistic and downright weird, but revising to me means fixing errors and it's wasted time that I could be spending writing the new thing, if only I'd gotten the previous thing right the first go-around.

This is not to say that I don't revise. I do.

And I grumble to myself the whole time.

However, as I become a better, more-practiced writer, my revision passes are becoming less involved. I inevitably have some smoothing to do at the beginning, since I discover all sorts of things along the way. By the time I've found out how the book ends, I usually need to tweak a few details at the beginning.

If I've done my job right, even my critique partner (CP) feedback only requires similar tweaking.

After that, I more or less cheerfully accommodate my editors' edits. The more involved developmental edits sometimes give me that "you screwed up" feeling, but more often I feel like it's taste or massaging to the market. Line and copy edits are no biggie. I don't care about commas. I accept most suggested rewordings.

One of my CPs insists that revision is holy work. That's exactly what she calls it.

For me, writing the story is the holy work. And if I'm diligent, clear-minded and true of heart, I'll get the story right as I write.

It's like being connected to the Tao, to the creative flow of the universe, pouring through me and into the work.

There's nothing else like it. Not even sex - and that's saying a lot.

Not a thing wrong with that.


  1. OMG, yes to composing papers on the typewriter. Mine was a Selectronic. I never even considered writing them longhand first - probably because I was writing them the night before they were due. LOL

    I never thought of revising as screwing up the first time around, but I do hate it because I'd rather be writing new stories. Amen to the holy work!

    1. Well, yes - when else would you do it besides the night before it's due???

      Amen, sister!

  2. Yup, if I had to do major revisions, I'd get that "failed feeling" too, rightly or wrongly!

    1. I suspect this is a perfectionist's character flaw, but alas... at least I'm in good company!