Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Even Famous Writers Poop

All writers poop.

And I don't mean by poop we all go to the toilet. We know nature only has so many ways of excreting our bodily waste. What I'm talking about is word poop. You know when you write something, and it sounds like the best thing in the world, but it isn't...yet.

Well, we ALL suffer from it.

Case in point. Kurt Vonnegut used to rewrite his pages hundreds of times until he got the words down exactly how we wanted them. See, he worried about his own word poop as well.

But there's one thing that can change that flabby, needs to get down the gym and do some lunges manuscript into a lean, mean, agent request grabbing machine. Revision.

Vonnegut knew it had to be done. And so do we.

I have to get this out there before I go any further, "My name is Lindsay, and I love doing revisions." Don't groan at the back, I can't help it. :)

So in between my NaNo writing (and I'm still self-editing while I write. It's an illness that I have no cure for!) I was reading the awesome posts on revision by Maggie Stiefvater (you know the author of Lament, Ballard, Shiver, Linger...) who talks about why she doesn't hate revisions either.

        "Because I don’t fart glitter and unicorns. My words don’t come out of the faucet perfect."

And, like it or not, it's true.

We all know the various nuts and bolts of revision, and we all have our different methods. Some writers leave their drafts a month and work on something else. Some attack revision straight away. Some will do revisions in certain areas like pacing, plot and character before they do a final polish. Some people can do six drafts, others three. We each have our own ways of working and that's great. It would be boring if we were all the same.

But we all revise. We wouldn't be responsible parents if we didn't help our book babies look their best before setting them free. And no one wants their manuscript to be the one sat on an agents desk with something in its teeth!

So even if you are writing that first draft, revising or are NaNoWriMo-ing and have turned off your internal editor (sorry, I can't do it. I tried, but it makes my head hurt. hee hee) embrace the universal truth. Revision is the thing that turns the word poop into something a little less stinky.

Want proof? There are a few hundred examples waiting to suck you into their world waiting at a bookstore/shelf near you. And I doubt they were a first draft.
Maybe one day ours will join them.

So how about you? Any revision lovers or haters out there. Any tips to share?


Kristal Shaff said...

LOL Lindsay.

Well, if your post title doesn't get people to click on it, then nothing will!

I'm a revision lover! It's the rough draft big that gets me.

Michelle McLean said...

LOL love the post, esp the title :D I sort of have a love/hate thing with revisions. I love them for the most part, but the thought of them is sometimes cripplingly overwhelming to me.

However, right now I'm in revisions and ADORING them :D I kinda prefer to have something to work with as opposed to a blank screen :D

Michelle McLean said...

and Kristal, LOVE the new face painting picture! (I know you've had it up for a few days but I keep forgetting to mention it) :D

Creepy Query Girl said...

Well, you know my take on revisions well enough by now- I envy anyone who loves doing them. But it's reassuring to know that all our poop comes out the same way...

Unknown said...

I used to be a hater... now I'm a lover. I didn't realize it until I had passed the point of first drafts. I've written three, still haven't touched revisions, until this week.

I finally got the feeling, the same one when I knew that my draft was finished. It's amazing that everything comes down to a feeling!

BTW - Oliver Awesome rocks :)

Sarah Ahiers said...

it depends on how much revising actually needs to get done. If it's a lot (or whole rewrites), no thanks.
Anything else i typically enjoy

Rachel Harris said...

Love revision, and I am also a self-editor while I write (Can't shut it off!)
Fun post, thanks!

Jessica L. Brooks (coffeelvnmom) said...

This was a great post. Polishing our first drafts into something better may be a pain in the rear, but I think the end result totally makes it worth it!


Anonymous said...

Well I think that I am going to tell people that I fart glitter and unicorns. Revisions are great and I certainly don't hate them!!

Katrina L. Lantz said...

Ha ha! Lindsay, I love it! Bekah, I'd like to see people's faces when you tell them that.

I have a love/hate relationship with revision. I'm like Falen--if it's just a little, I can handle it, but total re-writes make me woozy.

It's kind of comforting, though, to know that the end product of Libba Bray or Stephenie Meyer or Kiersten White DOES have to be revised to be that brilliant. Gives me hope for my wonderful crap. :)

Stephanie said...

Definitely a love-hate relationship here. I love to start but then after a while I stare at the screen wondering if what I'm doing is really making it any better. How do I know if it's where it needs to be??? Am I going in the right direction??

Jolene Perry said...

I'm on my tenth revision right now on a particular project and I'm not loving it as much as I loved the first 5-6. Most of them have been light weight, the last two a little more drastic but I keep chanting to myself, "It's going to be so much better, it's going to be so much better..."
Chocolate and good music also help.

PK HREZO said...

I love the first round of revisions. I get t relish the story in full and polish it. But if it requires three four times around, it bcomes laborius.

Jemi Fraser said...

You're hilarious!! Thanks for the encouragement while I'm stuck in revision hell :)

Regina said...

After not looking at the first draft for a month, getting it out for revision makes me giddy. I am excited about what I created, nervous about mistakes that I will find and humbled by the advice I have gotten from others.

So I usually feel pretty good about it.

Julie Musil said...

This is so funny! I actually like revision. I like the first draft too, so maybe I'm a nutcase. But with revision, I like the process of making a story I like even better. And you're right, no one does it perfectly on their first try.

Susan Fields said...

I do love revision. It seems to me like it's a completely different type of thinking than writing the first draft, and I like it much better. Coming up with words out of nowhere to put on a blank piece of paper - now that's daunting! I'd much rather polish what's already there.