Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Stage Fright!


So, I’m not officially signed up for Alex J.’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group, but with the amount of posts dripping in self-doubt that splatter this blog,  I might as well be.

In Monday’s post, I announced I was going to dedicate this month to reworking a manuscript for an agent. 

Yesterday I took the first step toward revisions.

And froze.

Holy hopping hell hole! I could't help thinking -'It’s too much! I’ll never be able to make the changes and somehow mold this novel back into a coherent, well-paced, flowing story.' 

I feel like I’ve gift-wrapped a present and handed it over to someone who undid the paper, cut the ribbon and really liked what they found inside, at the heart of the gift.  But now they’re asking me rewrap the present in a new way, using the same crinkled paper along with a few new strips. And, at the same time, make the whole package gleam as though it was never opened at all. 

Gah!

 I can’t help feeling like no matter how tirelessly I iron out the pieces, and try to match the old paper with the new, the wrinkles will still be there, marring the package as visible evidence of my total and complete inaptitude. 

Now, deep down I know this is ridiculousness- insecurity talking, pure and simple. Plenty of writers manage to do revisions and have a better, stronger, novel for it and I will too! Right? Right! *averts conviction-less gaze* 

It’s daunting, and painful and scary. But, despite all the emotional turmoil, I have a plan. And I’m going to follow it, one step at a time, and do my best (because that’s all we can really do, right?). 

As of right now, like many writers, I feel like my best will never be good enough.  But I guess the important thing is to keep trying, despite those feelings.

 I’ve always envied people who get passionate about revisions and feel comfortable and confident in their ability to make efficient changes in their work.  I, on the other hand, am the kind of writer who is constantly wondering if ‘I’m doing it right’. How do you feel when presented with revisions? Do they bring out your love of a challenge? Or do they place a direct call to Madame Insecurity?

24 comments:

Sarah said...

What perfect timing--I got second round editorial for one of my novels last night, and I'm in that deer-in-headlights stage myself. I'll snap out of it like I always do, but it'll take a few days, because right now it feels overwhelming. I also think writers who say they're passionate about revision still have this moment of glazed overwhelm before getting excited. It's hard not to when you've already put (what you thought was your) best into the work. Good luck as you revise!

Natalie Aguirre said...

I've never had to edit for an agent, so I don't know how I'd feel. In general, I like revising because there are words on the page. The first draft freaks me out way more. But I know the feeling of worrying if it'll ever be good enough.

Old Kitty said...

Lovely Katie!! It's great you have a Plan!! Stick with it - yay!!!!

I can't bear revisions - it's very hard to overcome madame insecurity but overcome she must! Yay! Take care
x

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Oh, that's a perfect analogy, Katie.

I love revisions, but that's only once I've figured what the heck I'm going to do with the book.

Connie Keller said...

Revisions always scare me.

But I know you'll be able to do it! There's line from the U2 song--
'I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight"--that says "It's not a hill, it's a mountain as you start up the climb." I always listen to that song when I'm afraid to revise--it helps me find the emotional energy to ignore my doubts.

Louise Bates said...

I always start out completely overwhelmed, wanting to hide under my covers and pretend the MS doesn't even exist. There usually comes a point partway through the revisions, though, where all of the sudden all the changes click, and I get really excited because now I can see for myself how this is working together to make the story stronger, and then I find myself obnoxiously enthusiastic the whole rest of the time I'm working on them.

Until the next round, that is.

Nickie said...

Revisions can be a real challenge. It's like if you say the same word over again and it loses its meaning after a while. When I revise, sometimes I find that I've been looking at the darn story so much that its next to impossible to read through critically. If I'm that stuck, I get a little help from my CPs to get a fresh perspective.

E. Arroyo said...

I try to not fall in love with any piece of writing and keep thinking that with subsequent drafts I am writing for an audience, not for me. I usually find the ms gets stronger.

Rachel said...

Katie: I'm also in the middle of revising for an agent. Let me tell you......when I first received the Agent revisions I threw up. 4 times. Yupppp. I was so nervous and excited and nervous that I can't handle it. I am STILL working on those revisions 8 months later but you know what I am learning so much in the process. Even if the agent doesn't like it after, I know i've improved writing and editing and that is SO SO important, too. Don't give up :-) YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!!!!!!

Laura Hughes, MittensMorgul said...

The first thing I do is read through all the edit notes and get my feelings out. I yell at the innocent little notes, laugh at the places where my CP's have made little jokes, and then put everything down and begin the mulling process. I let their recommendations stew for a few days (or at least a single day), and then get to work.

I don't worry about getting the iron out until after the major changes are done. Only then do I go back and make sure everything fits together seamlessly.

Good luck! You'll be fine. :)

Susanne Drazic said...

Take it one step at a time and do your best. Sounds like a good plan to me. You can do it, Katie!

Matthew MacNish said...

I've never had revision notes except from CPs, but I do worry that I would make the wrong changes, rather than the right ones.

Trisha Leaver said...

Although I refuse to put on my cheer leading skirt from high school, I will get out my nasty old blue and white pom-poms and cheer you on. You can do this! You can so do this!

jesimarie said...

I've never done revisions for an agent or an editor, just for myself, and they can be daunting. Looking at how long the manuscript is, how much the beta reader thinks needs to be worked on... It's overwhelming sometimes. But then I remember that it has to be done to make it better. And it will be better.

Maybe you should space your time out a little more and do the edits within more time, rather than a month? Perhaps there's a fear in there that you won't have enough time between housework, kids, husband, and everything else to edit. Just a thought, maybe.

Cherie Reich said...

Faced with revisions, I feel a little of both to be honest. I think anything is fixable, but I'm worried that I'll somehow make a bigger mess than I started with. I think you have to go with your gut. Why are you doing the revisions? Do they go with your vision of the book? Etc.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You can do it, Katie! Use Super Glue if necessary.
And I admit it - I like the revision stage best.
You are always welcome to sign up and join us next month. It's an awesome group.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Katie, You can do it!!!

Let me know if you want to see an example of my side-by-side outline strategy. It makes the whole thing more manageable for me -- although it might mean nothing but gobbledy-gook to someone else. Still, if it helps, I'll share.

Cheree Smith said...

You can do it! Revisions, for me, are always a challenge. There are a lot of decisions that need to be made, but you have to look on the bright side. At the end you'll have a shiny, interesting novel :D

Meredith said...

Yay for one step at a time! That's the only way I get through revisions. You can do it!

D.G. Hudson said...

Go with the gut as someone else says. Separate the task into manageable parts. Make a checklist of what needs to be done. It will keep you on track.

Good luck. I don't mind editing, but rewriting always leaves me wondering if I've got it right, too. It's a side effect of being a writer, or in any creative field.

Carrie-Anne said...

I love doing significant revisions on my old books that've only recently been rescued from obscurity on obsolete file formats on disks. It proves to me how much I've grown and matured as a writer when I'm able and willing to edit, revise, rewrite, and polish things I thought were perfect the first or second time around. One book in particular went through a significant rewrite and restructuring, and the best part about it was that it brought out of novella-length. I still don't consider it a real novel since it's so short (only 60,000 words), but at least it's no longer little more than a very long short story.

Rachel Searles said...

I never feel like my revisions result in something shiny and marvelous...I picture it more like I'm a mechanic patching up a used tank--if I get most of the pieces hammered into place as well as I can and if it runs smoother than before, then I'm fairly satisfied. (Never totally satisfied. Ever. I think that's normal though.)

Shakespeare said...

I love editing--no, REVISING--no, TEARING TO SHREDS--and what's most wonderful about it is that, step by step I see my novel becoming something so much more than it was in its earlier version.

I've been stuck before, though, and stuck good. I tried revising a novel this summer, only to get stuck about five times over. In fact, I spent a month on the first four chapters alone, and finally just set it down again. I was shredding, but I wasn't sure it was getting me anywhere.

I'll send all my kindest thoughts towards you... and let karma do the rest. Good luck with everything!

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