I finished writing my first novel over the summer. Dutifully, I sent copies off to my beta readers and waited patiently for their feedback. When I received their feedback, I worked on the problem areas they had pointed out. I sent it back to my trusted readers, but not to the one who advised me to scrap the whole thing and work on something else (oddly enough, she’s the only writer in my group of readers).
I felt pretty good about my novel. I don’t want to think about how much time I spent on it in the past 18 months since I started writing it. I’ve worked on other things during that time as well, but my focus kept returning, over and over, to this project. Tightening here, deepening there, deleting a character and adding a new one. In general, tinkering.
After the second round of revisions, I was starting to compile a nice Excel spreadsheet of agents, their websites, and a grade for each of them from 1 to 5 stars depending on how likely I think they are to want to work with me and my book (judging by genres they represent, if I know the agent or if I know someone who knows the agent, etc.). And then…
I thought of a brilliant alternative ending to my story.
Nothing will do but that I change and revise and tinker some more. But it will be worth it, because this ending, objectively, does make the book stronger and should address what my favorite beta reader (who is also my aunt) said: “It just lacks something.”
The good news is that I’m excited about revisions again. I normally do everything possible to put off revising my work. I like writing rough drafts. It’s fun to be able to type like hell and just throw words at the page. So what if I write a 2 paragraph description that gets scrapped later? That’s what revisions are for. Same goes for all of those transitions I didn’t write and just typed ADD SOMETHING HERE. And let’s not forget my least favorite – the note saying DO RESEARCH ON THIS.
My writing process is a little strange. What I call a “first draft” is actually my second draft, after one round of revisions. What most would call a first draft, I call prewriting because of the complete lack of organization. And I mentioned I do a lot of planning? Well, that actually takes place after the prewriting and before the first draft. And I name this the first draft because it’s the first complete draft that’s organized into chapters and completed with no idiot notes to myself lurking in the text.
Along the way I have had to convince myself that revisions aren’t boring. They require just as much creativity as writing the draft. If nothing else, at least I no longer dread revisions, even if they are getting the best of me this time. I know it will be worth it when I’m finished.