On August 26th, at 5:37 am, I wrote the last word of my novel. In finishing the writing step, I have now entered the wonderful world of editing and revising. And when I say wonderful world, I am of course, rolling my eyes.
Have you ever loathed something so much, you’ve loved it? For me, the something is editing and revising. I loathe it so much, I love it. I’m seizing each chapter in steps – first, revisions (if any), then second, removing weak words and needless sentences. I cannot deny editing and revising is catapulting my writing to a whole other level, but knowing this does not make the slow progression less difficult.
I’m beginning to believe that if I looked up “revisions” in the dictionary the definition would be: the seventh ring of a writer’s hell. To face the hard, cruel fact that a chapter needs to either be completely cut or completely revised shocks the mind. Your palms sweat, your heart races, and you want to crawl in a corner. At least until the revisions are finished, and you then have to face the shock over how excited you are with the improvements. The teeter-totter of emotions can drain every ounce of energy, and yet make you want to shout from the rooftop.
With each new chapter, I am faced with the question of: Can this chapter be better? So far, out of the ten chapters I have gone through, I have only had to completely change two, and I only foresee another one. When I first wrote the novel, I had a few chapters that dug deep down into the history of the Creek Nation. I read books, and wrote pages and pages of notes, borrowing deep into what their lives were like from the years of 1775 to 1861. Incorporating all of the history and information, I wrote two and a half chapters of back story for my characters. Describing everything I had learned, and even adding a bit of dramatic panache to keep the readers interest.
Unfortunately, I realized the chapters would probably end up on the cutting board for being unnecessary. Not to mention, as I was reading them, I became so bored I almost fell asleep. Don’t get me wrong, they were exciting if you were interested in reading what the people went through, but in the grand scheme of the book, they simply did not fit. Removing the chapters was a painful experience, only because of the time I had wasted on them.
I have found myself stuck a few times, and currently am stuck on a different chapter. It’s been four days and I have yet to figure out what needs to be changed and added. Hopefully, my brain will click soon or else I might have to be committed.
Once the revisions are in place I move on to finding weak words. Did you know there are sixty-six weak words in the English language? Words which are always used way too much, even though they should not be? Yes, sixty-six – I know, I have the list. Of Course, perhaps there are more, I don’t know. Once I got to sixty-six, I stopped counting because I felt like my head was going to pop off. So I sit, list in hand, and using the “Find” option to highlight each weak word in the chapter. The process is long, and at times can be so boring I fear one day the desk imprint in my forehead will actually become permanent. But with all the aggravation, comes the glory. I am cleaning up my sentences, making them tighter, crisper, and overall I am ecstatic with the changes I see.
September 18, 2011 marked two years since I have begun this journey. I wanted to be done with the novel by then, but with all the revisions and combing edits, I could not make the deadline. My goal is the end of the year, so I can submit to the first agent I have my eye on in January. Cross your fingers, please!!