Friday, May 15, 2015

a perfectionist revises

Inspired by this wonderful post and this wonderful post, I’ve been thinking about how revision relates to me.

I should start by saying I’m a neat freak, so when I receive an editorial letter from my super smart agent, my immediate reaction is filled with anxiety. I don’t like when things are messy and I want to hide all of this messiness in the bottom of a trashcan. Honestly, I picture throwing my manuscript into my blue recycling bin and never looking at it again.

This, as it turns out, is my work as a writer. To see that mistakes aren’t really mistakes, instead they are indicators of where I can dig deeper.

However, as I begin to dig deeper, I feel vulnerable and because I feel vulnerable, I have a tendency to rush through a rewrite. I cut out entire scenes with one swipe of the delete key and I quickly write new scenes just to fill the missing space. This technique does not work for me! When I rush, I end up with a story that is hollow.

So how do I keep from rushing? The moment I get an editorial letter, I remind myself I’m grateful for the feedback. Then I step away from the computer. I let myself feel uncomfortable. And, I wait. I do not go anywhere near my manuscript! During this waiting period, which usually takes a few days, the notes begin to move from my head and into my heart.

Here are a few things I tell myself while I’m waiting.

I will listen.
I will trust my process.
I will not throw my manuscript in the trash.

I also have this sentence tacked above my desk. I look at it everyday.

There are discoveries I haven’t made yet.