An Evolving Revision Process

What a weird, busy week and a half it’s been. It’s felt only like half a week, but somehow ten days got crammed into what felt like four, and here I am on a Wednesday feeling like it should be last Wednesday, and Memorial Day weekend is still coming up even though it just passed.

I sent off a new set of words to a very small group of beta readers recently, and boy do I feel…a lot. First of all, I’m a week behind schedule, so there’s some pressure going on there, and on top of that is the anxiety of people reading those words. It’s been almost half a year since I’ve shared something new and so unpolished with anyone, and The Korinniad was in a better shape when it went to beta readers than She’s All Thaumaturgy is right now, but at the same time there’s a definite relief that comes with finally letting go of this draft. I could have held it back another week and fiddled some more–hell, I could have held it back forever and rewritten it into oblivion–but I forced myself to basically make it intelligible, and emailed it out, dumb sentences and the few missing bits be damned.

Feedback is so strange: I want it so badly but fear it immensely. I keep having flashbacks to sentences I wrote and scenes I came up with and just cringing so hard at myself: “People are going to read that! With their eyeballs! They’re going to know I spent months and months on those words and that’s the garbage I came up with!” Yet, I crave criticism, things I can work on, and of course validation and praise. Yeah, duh, of course, I’m human.

One mistake I made with beta-ing The Korinniad was having too many readers. I was glad, of course, to have the outpouring of help that I did, but too many suggestions can pull you in so many different directions you end up going nowhere, and I didn’t put a deadline on returns, so waiting on feedback and not being sure when to start was stressful. Now I’m trying out a much smaller circle with a cutoff: if you don’t get it back to me by X date, that’s totally okay! Just don’t send it to me later and stress me out thinking I’m done with revisions only see new suggestions. It’s for my own sanity which is teetering on the brink as is!

But really I’ve been in so deep with SAT that stepping away completely from it is a godsend. I feel accomplished getting it out there, and there’s nothing I can do with it now but wait, so I can turn my attention to other things which is the best part: picking up something new-ish. Namely, I’m looking at the first draft of The Association slated for an October 2020 release. The Association will be a one-off murder mystery in an urban fantasy setting, and I have to say I am excited to finally have all the words in a title be recognized by Chrome, Word, and Scrivener. Fuck those red squiggles.

Also, I am, like, really enjoying this draft of The Association. Don’t get me wrong, I can see the problems and there are plenty of them, but she’s fun and silly and easy to read, and I don’t dread the work I’ll need to put into it to get it out the door. I never feel this way about my writing, so I don’t know if my standards have lowered or my skills have improved, but it’s a nice change.

I’m also attacking this book in the way that I wanted to attack the others, but failed at: I’m picking up the first draft and quickly reading through it, marking the places I want to fix and writing down the bigger problems. I’ll go back in when this is done to find solutions to those bigger problems, and then I’ll go back to the beginning again and do the close rewrite. (Then to beta readers and back to me for another rewrite then a final read-through and hard grammar edit.) This will all unfold in probably August, though, as SAT will get her final rewrite and release in June then I have to plot Vacancy book 3 (BOOK THREE OMG) which should be drafted in July. It might sound a little crazy, but I love looking ahead and anticipating what’s coming up and knowing I’m just left of right on schedule.

But for now I’m finally enjoying a first draft. So I gotta get back to it!

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