It's no secret. One of my main projects this year is revising my novel. The very same manuscript that I completed during NaNoWriMo 2009 as a NaNoRebel.
I don't usually make it a habit of talking about works-in-progress. However, when I started this novel, I decided to be a bit more open with my process. In fact, I even started sharing some details of my writing progress on my ewritelife Twitter account a few months ago. Partly because I wanted to give myself a chance to "think out loud". And, partly because I needed the extra push to bring the manuscript in to completion by declaring what I'm working on.
That move must have been an effective one for me because I finally DID complete a full fictional manuscript. Just when I thought I couldn't do it again. After all, it has been over 15 years since I last did that!
This time, though, I want to take the novel completion process to the next level. Yes, the revision process. And, that's exactly what I've been doing over the last month every spare moment I've got.
Now, I've decided that maybe, it might be good to share bits and pieces of my progress on this matter. Again, to give myself a bit of a push. Perhaps, by sharing this with you, I'd be more compelled to get on with revising and finishing my second draft, as I hope to do.
Since I've never completely revised a novel before, I decided last month that I needed some help to guide me in my first attempt at a proper manuscript revision. That's why when I came across Holly Lisle's How To Revise Your Novel workshop, I decided to sign up. And so far, after 6 lessons (delivered weekly), I'm really pleased that I'm not doing this revision thing completely on my own.
Yes, it feels like the whole thing is going at a snail's pace at this time. Yes, it seems awkward not to do any actual rewriting in the beginning. And yes, I'm itching "just to get on with it" sometimes.
But then, I'm learning so much.
I'm learning to look at my novel in ways that I probably wouldn't have, if I was doing this without any guidance. Or maybe, I would've seen some of those lessons in the process eventually. But, it probably would take me months and months of frustrating rewriting.
Right now, I can see the weaknesses in my plot (I've got too many scenes dedicated to sub-plots!). I can see that I'm not letting my characters do what they need to do to make the story work (I seem to mollycoddle them too much, too afraid to get them in to real messes!). I can see that I need to tighten certain things - and cut off others.
And, being my typical self, I tend to second guess myself way way too much.
On the flip side: I think I've got a manuscript worth salvaging. I'm engrossed in the world that I've created. Enjoying the stories of the characters in the world. I'm drawing maps of my fantasy world. Sketching my characters. Inventing a language. Brewing back stories and histories. And yes, I'm actually working on something that I really LOVE.
In fact, I love it so much that even if it never gets published, I'm still going to be ecstatic just to get it all finished.
It's hard work, yes. But, I am so obsessed by the whole thing, I just want to be able to put the stuff that excites me in my head down on paper - and communicate that same excitement and wonder to anyone who might end up reading it. Even if that reader is just me. That's the challenge.
I wonder how many Studio Notes readers are in the same boat as me? Anyone out there working on their novels - either in the writing or revision process? How do you go about it all?
Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.