I first started writing, with the want to be a published writer, when I was twelve. I was a horrible speller. I couldn’t type to save my life. I couldn’t tell an adverb from an adjective. But I had an overactive imagination and I read all the time. Needless to say, my first attempt at the beginnings of a novel is amazingly bad. There were a few good ideas in there, and one or two lines that rang wonderfully, but overall, it was clichéd and not fit for the eyes of any reader.
I never revised this first story, which I also never finished. I moved on instead to other stories, other attempts I never finished. I did complete the short story or two, but I never changed more than typos or grammatical errors in my “revisions.” I treated my papers in school the same way, and they usually got me A’s or B’s, so I didn’t see a problem.
Then one day, I finished a draft. A real draft of a real novel. Like I had in the past, I fixed my grammar and a few continuity things, and then thought I was done. I even sent it off to agents like this (in my defense, I was seventeen). And then I did more reading about how to get published, and I realized I needed to actually revise, but I had no idea how to start.
I never did do a complete revision with that one, or even the second novel I finished. I knew there was something wrong with both of them, but I didn’t know how to fit the problem, short of rewriting the entire thing, which I considered not an option.
Then I wrote number three. I loved parts of it. I also hated parts of it. So, I took it apart and rewrote most of it. The rewrite made parts of it better, but it still was a mess, so I moved on. Anyone noticing a pattern here? I didn’t, not through number four, which I thought I revised well after rewriting a few scenes, and then I moved on to the next thing.
Now I’m on five, and I’m doing revisions. What I want to do is hide under my covers and never look at it again. It is such as mess, and I have so much to change. I know what is wrong with it. The others, I knew there were things wrong too, but I could ignore them, I could act like I didn’t see them and say, “Oh, it’s good enough because I don’t know how to fix those kinds of problems.”
This time, however, each revelation of “what is wrong” has been huge. It made me cut one major character in March. It’s causing me now to rewrite every scene another major character is in. It makes me ask world building questions and read dialogue aloud. It’s become so much more than fixing grammar, the things I see as wrong. And I’d like to think, in the end, it will make the story stronger for it. All I have to do is not run away.