Sometimes the revision process feels like Limbo. Purgatory? Maybe. The In-Between place. The Not Here, the Not There. I’m not doing a whole lot of writing, is what I’m saying, and I’m not promoting anything, and I’m not working on editorial letter changes (at least, not exactly). I’m
I’m reading. My own book.
And it’s weird, I’m telling you.
Because you know what? I already know this story.
But I have to pick at it. I have to poke around and see what holes open up. I have to question every motive and every consequence. I have to push these little characters until they push back and become big characters. I have to understand the things that happened “organically” when I wrote it.
“Organically” is my least favorite writery buzzword these days. It’s become a cliche for “I think the words/scene/book just tumbled out of my brain when I wasn’t watching” and it sort of bugs me. (Can you tell?) But it’s true — there are pieces and parts and chunks of a book that I don’t remember THINKING about. They just happened. Entire characters who spring, fully formed, from a word or idea or conversation inside the page. And although the overuse of the word “organic” strikes me as laughable and kind of hippie (not the cool kind of hippie), the actuality of it, the reality of it is completely awesome. Because an idea I love is this: The story is THERE, waiting for me to unwrap it. And for me to polish it up. And for me to make it more real. (Um, speaking of hippie? I know.) And sometimes that happens with careful planning. And sometimes it’s the result of days and weeks and months of effort. And some days, it just shows up on the screen, sparkly and gorgeous and juicy. And that is some kind of sweetness.
So as I’m reading, I’m also critiquing. Which is (theoretically) different from criticizing. Criticizing is saying, basically, “Here’s why this is no good. And here. And here. So there.” Which I say to myself when reading my work now and then. But it’s no good, to be a critic. There is no creation going on there. Only destruction. Of story, of heart and soul and spirit. But critique, when it’s right, says, “Here are some places that you have left room for growth. And here are some thoughts and ideas of how that growth can happen, how it can make your story more full and sweet and terrifying and enjoyable and amazing.”
Which, really, is inside-the-mind kind of work. And it doesn’t lend itself to page count or word count or any kind of count. But it’s happening, and I hope it’s making the book better. And better. And more better. (And in the mean time, I’m kind of looking forward to some more submission, because that means more writing time in the schedule. Yay for writing time.) But between here and there, I’ll keep moving. I’ll keep reading and turning and polishing and honing (hey! I love that word) and sharpening. Because it’s all part of creating.