Before revision

Hope Valley

I tried to read my manuscript the other day. I’m up in the mountains for the weekend, and it’s been a week since I finished the novel manuscript. I’m still on winter break from teaching, at least for a couple more weeks. The setting for reviewing the manuscript, making editorial remarks, and navigating my way to a revision seemed…inevitable.

So I prepared a cup of tea, sat at my desk here in the mountains, in front of windows opening up to the icy slushy street, and opened up my manuscript, sheets of 8.5 x 11 paper, the edges of paper still sharp and untouched. I turned to the first page, and then the second page, and then the third page…

Um. No.

I felt, quite literally, like I was watching a television show four inches from the screen, accompanied by a flood of complicated emotion. Pride, discouragement, hope, love, pity.

Oh. Not ready to revise, despite the perfect circumstances. So I’m stepping away, even though I wish I could delve right back into the manuscript. But if I were to do so, unprepared as I am, I am pretty sure I would make some very foolish decisions–perhaps excising chapters that need to remain, or holding on to passages that need to be cut. Etc., etc.

Before I could even hold my head in my hands in despair, twitter friends came to my rescue, encouraging me to step away, and reassuring me the manuscript will be there when I’m ready to return. A friend of mine graciously reminded me that Stephen King recommends at least six weeks away from the manuscript before beginning revision.

I had known all these things, but they were all jarred from cognition in the wake of aborted ambition. My friends–my friends! Thank you–it takes a village to write a novel.

But, now what? I’ve got a few weeks before I think I can return to my manuscript for revision.

I took a day twiddling my thumbs, restless in the house, feeling adrift without a novel to write. Aimless.

I’m in the midst of writing an essay–but I’m in between drafts on that, too, and am awaiting feedback from a friend. I have no inspiration right now to write a short story, despite conditions being perfect for a short story to leap into my imagination RIGHT NOW, as well. The weather outside (I’m in the mountains for the weekend) is foggy and icy, not good for a jog/run.

And so, I’m writing the syllabi for my (split-level) English class this Spring semester. The semester starts in a couple of weeks. I might as well get an early start.

Feeling as bleak as the grey and white landscape outside.

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3 Comments

Filed under Writing

3 responses to “Before revision

  1. Nate

    “Feeling as bleak as the grey and white landscape outside. ”

    Yes, winter can be pretty harsh on the psyche (speaking of Stephen King –boy, he sure made hay with those bleak winter feelings!)

    It was below zero here last night. This morning our pipes burst and I started filling buckets with snow to melt until Mrs. Nate reminded me that we live in a giant city with stores that sell water and besides our landlord will have it fixed in like an hour.

    Some of my best winter memories involve being shut in with a deck of cards, a fire, something to drink and a few friends. That’s how we do it out here where the winter lasts half of the year.

    I’d suggest a large, ridiculous project outside of your comfort zone: snow sculpture, my sister and I tried to draw cartoon characters from memory once (neither of us can draw) that hours of fun, maybe a silly writing project like what you would imagine happening on a vacation to Gatlinburg, Tennessee –or a one-man play you could put on for your husband!

    Oh, and look out for that giant bear up there!

  2. Your subconscious is working through your novel, leaving your conscious feeling a little out the loop, like “What’ll I do?”

    You’ll work on your syllabi, you’ll drink tea, you’ll listen to music, you’ll sleep, you’ll cook and eat healthy, filling foods, you’ll…wait…wait a minute…what was that? A flash. A vision. A scent. A zing. A feeling. A voice. A thought…

    Time to revise.

    I like the Stephen King suggestion. I think I waited 3.5 weeks before I started revising my YA novel. I’m only on Ch 3, and it feels like it’s gonna take forever. *Sigh*

    That sight outside your window is BEAUTIFUL!

  3. Yvonne

    I like cooking, reading, and watching movies during times like these. Look at it as refilling the well.

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