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What did you think I meant? ;-) For me I knew I wanted to immerse myself in nothing but my book during the process, hence, my abscene from blogging for a while.

When the manuscript for Hugging the Rock came back to me with all my editor's comments, the first thing I did (of course) was to read every single comment she'd made then let out a big WHEW in relief because nothing seemed impossible. The second thing I did was print it out (we're doing this all by email) so I could scribble on the pages because I like to revise by hand. The third thing I did was freak out because, well, that's just what I do, when something I want to do well is close at hand and I don't want to screw it up.

I've had the manuscript back for a while, thinking about what poems needed more work than others and doing some minor stuff but I saved the bulk of the revision for this week when I could take off work. So for the weeks before "revision week" I've wavered back and forth between it's wonderful, I love it, the revisions will be great and I've lost the voice, I don't know what to do and I'm going to screw up the book and they'll ask for their money back. (Does every writer live with this fear of having give back their money?) Never mind that I still don't even have my money from this deal yet, I was already worrying about losing it.

But first, vacation. The very best part of time off from the day job is being able to work on my body's timeclock, not someone else's. After catching up on my sleep the first couple of days I settled into a rhythm of up at 9 and into bed about 1am. I've had a week of the quiet I've been craving for longer than I want to remember. No TV. No music. Only a couple of phone calls. Just me and words. I'm feeling rested and energized even though since Monday I've been working just on the book. And I mean JUST on the book.  Parents with young children still at home, I apologize, because I remember how hard it was to have this sort of experience with kids around the house...pretty much impossible. My routine? Get up, let the dog out, make some chai, let the dog back in, and then move to the office to work mostly non-stop until around 1 except for breaks for more chai. Shower, eat, then back to work until midnight with a break sometime for dinner. Heaven. Absolute heaven. I know I couldn't keep up this kind of pace week after week, with the writing but then revision uses a different part of the brain than creating new stuff, so who knows.

My system of revision went something like this:

  1. Jot down notes on all the pages that needed some kind of edits.
  2. Read through the manuscript checking my changes to see if they really were complete or if I'd have to come back to them. Complete ones got a Post-It note at the top of the page. Any that needed more work got a Post-It on the right side of the page.
  3. Enter all the changes into the computer. 
  4. Go back to all the pages that needed help and try to rework them.
  5. Repeat several times.

Then I printed everything out, sat on the couch, and read the book to my dog.

Of course in the reading, there were more things that needed fixing so I went through the whole thing again. Then (because I'm a glutton for punishment) I put some of my "favorite" words in the find and count, you know, those ones you really don't think you're using that much of and then boom, you find that the mostly useless words like "that" and "but" appear more than 100 times in a book that's only 140 pages long and way too many stanza start with the word "and." So I let Word highlight all those wonderful words for me and yes, went through the manuscript again making more scribbles all over the pages. Tonight I finished entering all those changes and printed it out. Tomorrow I'll read it out loud, again, and hopefully not find anything else that I want to tinker with. It's due on 11/1 so I luckily have time to let it sit for a while before I read through it one last time and send it in.

Then I can commence to worrying all over again while I wait for my editor's response.

There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.


( 9 comments — Leave comment )
October 22nd, 2005 12:23 pm (UTC)
Ooh. I loved reading about your process, Susan. We work alike.

I love revising.

Congrats on making such good progress!
October 22nd, 2005 04:48 pm (UTC)
I love revising too, Haemi. This whole process has reminded me of what I enjoy most about writing, being able to sink into a story like this. I've already committed to working on novels for the immediate future but this helped me cement that thought. I love picture books but it just isn't the same.
October 22nd, 2005 04:05 pm (UTC)
I need caffeine to do that though! good for you susan!
October 22nd, 2005 04:56 pm (UTC)
I miss my coffee. When I was younger and home all day I used to keep the coffee pot plugged in and drink 8 cups a day but I can't do that anymore. I give in every once in a while since there's a Starbucks on the corner (drive thru even!) right next door to where I work.

Funny doing what I love to do on my timetable I haven't been at a loss for energy at all. Man it's going to STINK to get up at 5am on Monday.
October 22nd, 2005 04:53 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the post -- it was educational and thoughtful, and it sounds like you've had a wonderful week. Not a week off, since you've been working so hard, but a wonderful week just the same.

I have only one question: What did your dog think of the revised opus?
October 22nd, 2005 05:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Kelly. It was great to have that week to do what I love. As for Chelsie listening, I take it as a good sign that she didn't get up and walk away. :-0
October 25th, 2005 03:38 pm (UTC)
Does every writer live with this fear of having give back their money?

I have to EARN some first... :)
I like your technique. I'll have to take notes.
October 27th, 2005 01:16 pm (UTC)
Hey, are you back to blogging?
October 27th, 2005 01:19 pm (UTC)
I never stopped, I just put the most of my ramblings and such at my other journal: http://lilrongal.livejournal.com

I'll make an effort to keep up with my writing journal more. The weather is growing colder and the long winter nights are usually great for my muse. Hopefully I'll have lots of writing-related things to blog about.

( 9 comments — Leave comment )

Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.

Susan Taylor Brown

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"Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing. They are the ones who discover what is most important and strangest and most pleasurable in themselves, and keep believing in the value of their work, despite the difficulties."
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--Nancy Slonim Aronie

"Writers write about what obsesses them. You draw those cards. I lost my mother when I was 14. My daughter died at the age of 6. I lost my faith as a Catholic. When I'm writing, the darkness is always there. I go where the pain is."
--Anne Rice


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