Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Juggling and Revisions

As writers, we get used to juggling pretty early. We have to juggle writing time around baby naptimes, working at office jobs, taking classes, running the family, all the myriad things we have to do during the day---and night, And it can get confusing.

As published novelists, however, juggling becomes even more hectic. Now, we have to juggle booksignings and other promotional events around finishing the current book that's due under our contract, and planning the next. Lorraine posted on this the other day. It's challenging, to say the least.

Since my latest Kelly Flynn mystery came out last week, I've started booksignings and meeting readers at other events. I love meeting new people, so that part of the "novelist's job" is easy for me. But---I'm also finishing up the last of my own revisions to this current Kelly Flynn novel that I started in January. It's due this week on my editor's desk, and tomorrow morning it will be in the mail and on its way to New York. At last.

It is often said in the writing business that revisions are where the real writing work is done. And that's true. I write my novels in "rough draft" the first time through. I have to tell the story, all of it. Once it's done, I reserve several weeks for revisions, because that's when problems will jump out at you. I usually put my books through at least five or more complete revisions before it's ready to mail.

Every revision allows me to see something I didn't see before. The first revision is big and messy because the very biggest problems jump out. Once those are fixed, the second revision reveals lots of other things that need to be fixed. And the third, and so on. By the time I get to the fifth revision, it's mostly style and word choice that I'm revising. All the big stuff had to be fixed first before I was able to notice the finer points. So, there's a sense of accomplishment by the time you're finally finished. Only then, are you able to "let it go."

Do any of you have experience with revisions? In your personal writing or in your professional lives? How'd you like it?