Revision

Good morning, regular life. No more vacation, cooking like a madperson (or more likely, enabling DP to cook like a madperson), no more visitors bearing booze. I have a class to plan, a doctor’s appointment to show up to, poems to respond to, editorial work to complete, and the Fucker to revise.

I read an article about revising a novel that included the (paraphrased) following: “revising 17 times will not make you a writer any more than wearing tweed.” The article was about revising your novel in one pass. It had a lot of practical advice that I can apply to the Fucker. But then there is the matter of depth. The article is written by a fantasy author. She thinks being a professional is finishing your book and moving on to the next.

This might be true if you are writing scifi/fantasy/urban fantasy (a family of genres I very much enjoy reading), but not so much if you are writing a memoir. In order to be professional while writing a memoir, I have to think through this clearly and figure out what the fuck I’m writing about and how best to tell the story.

When Terry Tempest Williams wrote Refuge, she printed out the parts about her mother’s cancer on white paper and the parts about the bird refuge she loved being flooded on blue paper. She stacked the manuscript and marked where there was too much white or too much blue. I need to do something like that.

Maybe it’s about printing it out and laying it out on my still-extended dining room table. Or maybe it’s post-its with subjects or questions. Or maybe it’s colored paper. I’ll let you know.

What’s going on in your regular life?

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14 responses to “Revision

  1. I’m facing a lot of catch-up work, after being gone from the cubicle for four days. I’d rather be doing duckwork.

    (and I’m wondering if you could send me the location of or link to that revision article?)

  2. I like the connection between revising and tweed. Is that from the article you were reading, or did you cook that up? I am betting on the latter, which indicates just how well you tell stories (very well).

    My comment is that academic writers are like scifi/urban/fantasy writers AND like memoir writers. It’s less a matter of genre than it is of personality. And here, I sense a tension: you are both a copy-editor and a story-teller. A poet with ADD.

    Maybe you are both types of writers at the same time!

  3. My regular life is as dismal as the weather. My ID badge still works at the office, so I guess I still have a job, so I go in and do it. I’ve been running less because my leg is sore. (I may need to give up on December — after Saturday’s 12K — and rest the muscles for a fabulous 2015.) My kids are about as aloof as ever. I’m still struggling with what I’m sure is a form of clinical depression. But my wife and I spoke — around a campfire no less — about making a big change in our lives. That’s a nice distraction.

    Oh, and I think maybe the writing is beginning to flow again. Some actual progress, which is a change.

  4. Whether novel or memoir, a well-written book always has a purpose and some thought behind it. It’s just that some books—a lot of books—aren’t that good.

    In other news, during the move I had a little accident which resulted in my entire big toenail being ripped out by the roots. Hurts like a motherfucker, as you might imagine, and I can’t wear a shoe. That’s regular life for you.

  5. PS Averil. The fucker WILL get better. This is true (I am a nurse. I know such things). And what doesn’t kill you gives you something to write about.

    (You’d also be suprised that tylenol may give you better relief than some of the stronger things they give for painful extremities. Try and see…)

      • come visit down under. you could go bareful here.

        And don’t think for a moment (despite my get-over-it-hard-assed discrouse above) that I don’t understand our pain. Horrible!

        A toe nail? Really? they rip those out in torture scenes! Like I said, something to write about…

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