Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Feeling the LOVE

I am in the muddy middle of revising a novel. Scratch that. If you know me, you know that I’m in the very clean middle of revising a novel. And so I’ve been collecting some quotes about rewrites and revisions to inspire me along the way.

Here’s one –

Revision is one of the exquisite pleasures of writing.
~ Bernard Malamud

Was Bernie a junkie?

Surely he had to be high on something when he said this. I am not finding revision to be an exquisite pleasure. Perhaps I am doing it wrong.

However, I know deep down that the following is also true:

Writing is rewriting. A writer must learn to deepen characters, trim writing, and intensify scenes. To fall in love with the first draft to the point where one cannot change it is to greatly enhance the prospects of never publishing.
~ Richard North Patterson

Thanks, Rich. I know you’re right. In fact, I do spend a LOT of time rewriting as I move along through a piece. I have to. My writing method is basically barfing on the page – so I spend ages cleaning it up. I realize that this is probably not an image you’re enjoying right now, but it’s true. And here’s a bonus tip – if you’re trying to get 9-year-old boys to enjoy the act of writing, they LOVE it when you tell them to barf on the page. Works. Every. Time.

And speaking of cleaning things up...

Rewriting is like scrubbing the basement floor with a toothbrush.
~ Pete Murphy

Well, Pete, we all know that I don’t need any encouragement in the cleaning department. That basement floor sounds like the perfect procrastination place for me.

But today I’ll cast aside that basement-scrubbing toothbrush and pick up the red pen instead. Who knows what I’ll have to show for it. It may go something like this –

This morning I took out a comma, and this afternoon I put it back again.
~ Oscar Wilde

But I’ll try to remember this –

The great thing about revision is that it's your opportunity to fake being brilliant.
~ Will Shetterly

And maybe, just maybe, today will be the day that I find that exquisite pleasure.

But I’m not placing any bets.

PROMPT: Misery loves miserable company. So get out one of those old manuscripts you’ve stashed in a drawer. Yeah, I know you have one. Rework it a bit today – take out a few commas, then put them back in just for the joy of it. Trust me, we’ll all feel better in the end. I may not like the act of revision, but I LOVE that glorious thrill of having revised.