On the subject of revisions that David started yesterday…I remember when my Tor editor sent my first editorial letter. It wasn’t very long, mostly because the main revision he wanted was a bit huge. Monstrously so. Enough that I dissolved into tears for about a day when it first arrived. For a few hours, I was utterly frustrated. I didn’t think I could face the work ahead. But I listened to my friend Faith, and let myself freak out for a day. Miraculously, the next morning I felt a little better. I started thinking of how I could accomplish what my editor asked for. The day after that was a little better, and soon I was typing away, making the changes and enjoying the new look my book was achieving.
I’m a slow writer, as I’ve mentioned three or four hundred times around here. I’m slow because I like every sentence to be right and proper and good before I leave it behind. It’s not the easiest way to write a story, but I realized long ago that it’s my way. The only trouble is that I start to become impatient with myself, worrying that I should hurry up and get to the end. Have you ever worried hard about something? It’s like trying to run through a brick wall – no matter how hard you pump those legs, you’re just not moving. For someone who already writes slowly, this is misery. The slow writing grinds to a halt, and I find myself questioning every word that came before instead of pushing on through to the end. But while finishing “Kestrel’s Dance”, I suddenly realized something wonderful about that editorial revision letter. Are you ready? Here it comes.
I don’t have to worry about being perfect.
Honestly, up until that moment of revelation, I’d been feeling as if I was knee-deep in mud, unable to move forward or back, until it occurred to me that the important part wasn’t getting every sentence, every word, every comma right. It was getting to the end.
This is not to say I shouldn’t write the best story I can the first time around. And God knows I’m not suggesting that my editor should write even one word of my story. What I mean is that instead of ripping my own creative guts out in an attempt at perfection, I can relax, tell my story and depend on my editor to tell me where I should have taken the left turn to Albuquerque, because it doesn’t have to be perfect the first time. Can you see how incredibly freeing that thought is? It’s the thought that helped me over the hump of the last five chapters in “Kestrel’s Dance”, and it’s what helps me find speed when my process is slowing down even more than usual.
Hooray for editors and revisions!