First Drafts, Revision, and Killing Your Darlings

Posted by in Stuff About Writing

IMG_4047  You might have been wondering where I have been. I’ve been banging my head against a wall; sobbing into my coffee cup; staring blankly at white pages with tiny black print; reveling in my own genius for brief moments before being crippled by doubt; and pacing, so much pacing I’ve worn a path in the carpet in my office. In short – I’ve been revising my novel.

“You finished?” You say, “That’s great!”

“Yes…” I say between sobs.

“But!” You say, “You finished your novel! That’s amazing! You’ve never actually finished one before!”

And you’d be right. (Thanks though, for using the word ‘actually’ kind of a dick move, but I’ll ignore it for now.) I was crazy excited that I’d finished. I’ve started lots of novel length stories before but none of them have ever made it to fruition. I was bananas excited for the two weeks that it sat looking lovely and pristine on my side table. The two weeks that every revision book told me was the shortest amount of time that I was allowed to wait, to let it cool, before I started trying to fix it. That two weeks felt like an elephant’s gestation period. I was ready to get this baby out of me. I was ready to edit.

No I wasn’t.

No one is ever ready for this.

IMG_4078  This is Lincoln and I on the first day. I have colorful tabs. I have my red pen and my afghan and I’m feeling really good.







This is Franklin and I about a week later, I’m still trying to figure out which scenes should be where. I spent a lot of time staring at that wall. (Please ignore all the pet hair on my pants – sadly it is not a sign of how engrossed I am in revising that I’ve forgotten to clean or do laundry, I am almost always covered in cat or dog hair. Sigh.)



These are my writing partners after giving up on me. They are tired of watching me pace. (Link and Frank on the seat, Jefferson (Jeff) is on the back of the couch – the couch that there are not supposed to be any pets on.)

** Yes, it is possible that I’m trying to distract you from being po’d at my lack of recent posts with cute pets. 🙂

I’m about 3/4 through the first edit. I think it is coming together nicely, sometimes. Other times I’m pretty sure it is a piece of poop that doesn’t make sense and has no big moment. Revising sucks.

I am proud that I finished something. I’m proud of all these pages before me and all the work I’ve done over the last year. But I’m really scared too. When you’re writing there is so much hope and promise. This book is going to be amazing. You can write a great scene and feel so good about that tiny piece. But when you can see it all together, when you back up and look at the whole thing you can see just exactly how big of a mess you’re dealing with. What if no amount of revision can polish a turd?