Revision

Some writers revise as they go, so in touch with their inner editors that they choose each word with a deliberate grace.

I am not one of those writers. I’m often not afraid to just throw in an approximate word to get me through the first draft. There is room to revise later and I’m very fond of whoever said “You can’t edit a blank page.” Someone could easily have the next bestseller in her head but without ever putting it down on paper the public will never know. So I race through the rough draft sometimes, if the characters and plot come easily, and then see what I have at the end.

Then comes time for revision. There have been a couple stories where what I have at the end isn’t what I thought I was going to write about in the beginning. Somehow the story took me with it and the characters made their own decisions – just like they’re supposed to. The next thing you know I get to struggle with whether to remake them into my original vision or let their own ideas shape my final manuscript.

“Burning Bright” was one of those manuscripts. I had the two of them with a different mission, to find another version of remnants of life in the story. They made their own rules and informed me later, which worked out well enough for me but not so well for Isra. When I read it after I finished the draft, I realized how much they needed to have the plot go the way they took me rather than how I planned to take them.

Still means I have a lot of things to revise. Earlier plot points that would have led to my original ending had to be rerouted. The character development sometimes needs to get a little deeper. Every now and then entire characters have to be ousted from the story. They’re generally bit parts that just clutter the story I’m telling, and I can’t see that until I’m finished.

The good news is once the process is finished, the sparkling story is ready to go somewhere and be read. In the process right now with another novel, and now I’m wondering if the title doesn’t fit the story. Still, just another piece to revise and make the best I can manage.

What are your rituals through revision? Do you follow the set vision in your head as you go, or do you let the drafts fly and fix them later?

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The Race is On!

So far, the book is winning. Received the author’s proof PDF today. So, I sat down to read a book I’ve read many times before, that I wrote.

I made it over halfway through so far. Marking up random things that haven’t translated. You’d think we’d have caught everything with as many eyes have gone over this manuscript by now. Most of it is simply formatting for the printer. Okay, all but one definitely are, but reading through another time to make certain that’s all there is.

I think I can get through this by Monday.

Perhaps the book will be done first? All I know is I’m in for a very interesting month.

Graduate School

I wonder what it takes to go to graduate school for an MFA. I hear about people doing it, but while I looked into it, it’s difficult to know if I have what it takes.

I check out the question on the application. I did my undergrad in engineering, which means I haven’t studied much literature or writing in a college setting. Does that mean others have an edge? Possibly. I do know the program has admitted engineers and doctors before.

Friends who know others in the program say the most important part is the manuscript. I suppose that’s for the best, since it’s also the part that I feel most comfortable with. I know how to write. I know I have a lot to learn, which is why I’d like to try grad school.

A friend of mine once said his trouble submitting things wasn’t whether he was good or not. He knew he was good. He just wasn’t sure if he was good enough. Good enough meaning to not be ridiculed with his submission to editors who read far too many pieces to be kind when someone can’t follow rules. I prefer to think of it that way, rather than that some of the writings from others are so awful as to be only fodder for jokes. (But in my head I know both are probably the case.)