aqua fortis

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Buried in a Dung Heap--er, Rubbish Pile--of Words

I have been writing like CRAZY lately, and not just because of my revision. Thanks to Beth I have a new freelance job doing some work-for-hire writing, and it's been good so far, but it's been keeping me super busy. Yeah, yeah, I know a lot of people say you should avoid work-for-hire, but a) I need money, and b) I'm not sure I'd necessarily want my name attached to some of these for posterity so I'm not concerned about my future "ownership" of it. Oh, and did I mention I need money? Going to Italy and Spain for a month this fall is not going to come cheap, even though I was an Expedia ninja and we're getting a good deal. Can hardly wait for October now, though.

In the meantime, I have been working on the revision and have also been experiencing quite a bit of revision-related fear. Certainly nothing insurmountable, but definitely annoying. Here are a few choice fears that have come up lately, as I find myself recasting several subplots and majorly revising the timeline:

  • Fear that I won't be able to do it well enough, despite all my efforts. That I won't put enough into it, or that I'm just not good enough to begin with. This I can generally deal with, because I tend to have an inferiority complex about most things in my life, so this is nothing new. I guess it's probably why I've had a corresponding tendency to try to be an overachiever. (That, and my dad periodically telling me about various more-successful relatives and/or children of family friends, most of whom are evidently either getting multiple graduate degrees or amassing wealth and fame in practical and worthwhile careers like medicine, law, and engineering. Sigh.)
  • Fear that even though I'm putting my all into this revision, and even though it's going to be a very different (and hopefully better) piece in the end, all the changes and all the differences will only lead to new and interesting types of suckage. I have a lot of trouble overcoming this one, but there's not a lot I can do about it at the moment other than keep plugging away.
  • Fear that, even if it all works out at this stage and I end up with a published book, at the end of it all people will read it and think, "THIS is the kind of thing that's running through your head?" while looking at me very warily, slowly backing away; or perhaps laughing derisively, or stifling a yawn, depending on the doom scenario of the day. However, this is one of those "fears" that I should be so lucky to have materialize, right? Err....

At the end of the day, though, I'm still incredibly excited about it, and the majority of the time, that helps me overcome the fear and actually get down to work. That, I guess, and my inability to stifle my inner overachiever.


tanita✿davis said...

Well, there's mass suckitude in any stage of the game -- but the trick is to just keep pushing through, and have something else you're working on that's brand new and taking all of your excess anxiety and nervous energy.

Also: don't expect to be "done" all in one fell swoop with your manuscript; you and your editor may go through your "finished" product three times before he bounces it off of his editorial board. When you get an agent, you'll likely do one or two run-throughs with them before you go through it with your editor two or three times. You've got the right of it -- just do your best, and count on them to be more and more specific and clear with their instructions so that you can hone the piece.

Kelly said...

I'm struggling with #2 myself. I'm only doing my first revision after finishing the first draft, but it dawned on me that I pretty much have to rewrite it all. But then after I do that, what if I reread it and feel like I have to rewrite AGAIN?

Each step takes us a little bit closer, though. If it were easy, everyone would do it, right? :)

Beth Kephart said...

I refuse to heckle. I only want to support. And to say: I have found that a sentence, a paragraph, a page, has to knock around in my head and go through at least a dozen, often more, transformations before all of a sudden it is right, or as close to right as I can get it (I'm rarely 100 percent pleased). It just is, and it announces itself as such. And you'll know it when you see it.