Friday, April 13, 2007


It's taken awhile, but I'm slowly acquiring the ability to revise my manuscript. Revisions used to be so mindboggling that I simply didn't do them. Instead I had three works in progress stalled on the shelf.

Thanks to joining my Romance Writer's of America chapter, going to every monthly meeting for the past several years, soaking up the education sessions and taking in a few writers' retreats, it's all finally sinking in.

There's probably a very direct link to my collector's personality and my difficulty with turfing sections of my writing. I'm very Victorian in my love of clutter. I don't throw anything out very quickly. Including words.

But just as I've watched episodes of "Neat" and giggled over other people's crazily messy homes, I've begun to move more unused items out of our apartment. I used to be obsessed with aquiring more storage, but now I try also to move stuff along - through donating items, recycling and last on the list, ditching it entirely. My husband and I are making headway on our Merlin-the-Magician's-tower-of-topply-book-stacks style of decorating.

And I'm learning to turf the parts that don't work in my manuscript. The crafting part of writing is hard for those of us who feel like we're simply tuning in to a pre-existing story. Once I'd copied it all down, I never seemed able to get good reception for the "Revisions" channel.

Strangely, I never had this problem when I edited films at school. I took one look at a segment and trimmed whatever I didn't need. No internal arguments, for or against. So I've begun to look at my writing revisions as a cross between clearing away the piling books from the apartment, and trimming frames here and there from a film scene.

Maybe I'll look at revisions from yet another angle. I started poking around my garden the other day and saw buds on my roses. I love pruning them. I'll just think of revisions as a pair of pruning shears and my manuscript as a rambler rose. Nothing can get ramblers down for long. The pruning only invigorates the rose to new growth and more blooms.

Yes, I'll treat revisions like pruning and I'll have no trouble at all!


Dara Edmondson said...

It took me a while to learn how to revise. It's almost like cutting away a part of you, but it's necessary for the finished product to shine. Sounds like you're on the right track. Wish I could prune the stuff in my house I don't need as well as I trim my manuscripts!

Devon Ellington said...

"pruning" is a great way to look at it.

Also, remember that nothing is ever wasted. IF it doesn't work here, but it's good -- it will resurface in another piece of work and be even more relevant down the line.

I know what you mean about clutter -- I'm good about not letting dirt accumulate, but if the desk is bare -- it's too sterile. I can't think.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and letting me stop by here. I'll come by again.

Devon Ellington
Ink in My Coffee

julia said...

Devon, welcome! That's a lovely thought, that something will resurface again if it needs to be read or seen. Actually, that's a huge corner for me to turn. Thanks.