When Bernard Malamud said “revisions are one of the exquisite pleasures of writing“, he was having a very different experience to mine.
A plan goes awry
It’s been a million years since I posted the first blog in this series and that just goes to show what a whirlwind this whole experience has been.
By now, Dear Blue should be well into the professional edit if my original schedule is anything to go by. Turns out, it’s not! I’m still several steps behind and smack-bang in the middle of my personal revisions.
A lot of that is down to personal circumstances arising and changing, but most of it is fear.
Writing the first draft is the hardest part, or so I’m told. That must be true, because it did take me six years to write in full. But the revisions are no picnic either.
Revisions and insecurity
I’m facing a lot of the same fears that stared me down as I wrote the first draft. There’s a lot of insecurity about going back to read words that hit the page six years ago, because who knows what I wrote back then? It could be terrible. I’m six years more skilled now, so I could be looking at an embarrassment of a novel.
What’s that? Imposter syndrome, you say?
Absolutely. Correct. Hit the nail on the head.
And, in fact, when I tackle revisions I usually come away thinking ‘Wow, that wasn’t so bad! I’m actually a decent writer. And am I, dare I say, a little bit funny?!‘
So the only way out is through, I guess.
But there’s more, too, of course.
Trauma on the page
The same personal hurt I had to go through to write the book, those personal childhood memories I had to delve into, it’s just as hard to read them as it is to write them. Maybe even more so, because I don’t have to think so technically about correct word usage, impactful phrasing, etc.
Furthermore, reading back a fictionalised version of my past trauma is not as healing as writing it. In fact, I’d say it’s slightly the opposite. But that’s to be expected, right? The healing part was the writing and the therapy that got me to a place where I could turn these experiences into something creative. The reading and revising, well, that’s just admin.
But time is, in fact, running out.
I have to get serious about getting this book out to beta-readers and into the hands of my professional editor.
So, it’s gotta be this week. It’s got to be. I have to do everything in my power to concoct a draft that I’m comfortable handing to critical eyes.
This timeframe is likely to butt heads with my personal care routine because I suspect I just need to power through until I’m finished.
In the past, that’s meant sacrificing sleep and sleep is one of the most valuable tools I have in my self-care kit. So, I have yet to figure out where productivity and self-care meet, but I guess this week will reveal all.
A vague semblance of a plan
Today is Tuesday. Apart from revisions, the only items on my ‘to do’ list for the day are cleaning the rabbit room and doing dishes. I’ll try to limit those activities to ninety minutes total. The rest of my day is dedicated to revisions.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, I have nothing on the agenda as of yet. I’ll probably have laundry and more dishes to take care of, but again, 90% of the day can go towards revisions.
Thursday is a Dublin day. I go to Dublin most Thursdays for family commitments and between the commitments themselves and the two-hour-plus round trip, I can rarely do anything writing-related. If I’m lucky I might manage an hour of admin or maybe putting together some graphics for social media. But that’s about it.
On Friday I’ll only really have the typical works hours because this weekend is my first wedding anniversary. To celebrate, my wife and I have planned a staycation in our glorious little Arklow corner of the world. That means bookwork is probably off-limits (unless I manage to get up early in the morning and tackle some of it while my wife is asleep).
Shooting high and missing
So the goal is to be finished my personal revisions by end-of-business on Friday.
Do I think that’s doable? Honestly, no, at least not without compromising quality and sleep. If it’s not possible, I’m not going to push myself beyond my limits.
But I am aiming for the stars and I’ll be content even if I miss because I’ll still be several steps closer.