Magic Revision Pants
I’ve been wearing the same sweatpants for three days. And it’s not because they are my favorites or because I look particularly good in them. It’s because I haven’t left the house in three days. THREE DAYS! That’s never happened before. Ever.
I’m a hugely social person, and I usually can’t wait to go out the door in the morning to make as many human connections as possible. To say “hi” to the bus driver, to meet a friend for coffee, to chat with the dude that mows the neighbor’s lawn, to converse with the mechanic about my car’s latest because-it-has-a-lot-of-mileage repair. It doesn’t matter what the connection is. I’ll enjoy it. Because that’s who I am.
But not this week. This week, I am sitting alone at my computer (what a good girl I am!), working diligently at something that is among the most difficult things I’ve ever done.
I’m revising my novel PUSH. I am deleting words that, a few months ago, I struggled to drag from my brain and line up in perfect order. I gave them a voice, molded them into a story. And now…now I have to change some of them. And it is soooo not easy.
I’ve revised non-fiction more times than I can count. I’ve erased entire articles, deleted paragraph after paragraph from book chapters, rewritten pages until I thought my brain would implode. But revising non-fiction is different than what I am doing today. It stings, yes, but it isn’t the same sting. It isn’t as deep. Revising non-fiction is cutting out the superfluous information, limiting word count, stating the same fact but in a different way.
Fiction revision, though, is an entirely different ball game. Fiction revision comes with a lot more opportunity to fuck things up.
If I do it wrong, it isn’t just a matter of removing some factoid. “Wrong” could change everything. “Wrong” could snuff out someone’s voice. “Wrong” could turn a character into something they were never meant to be. It could alter their entire history with just a tiny change to a single sentence. Unlike non-fiction, I’m discovering that in fiction, every word has consequence. Every word matters. Every word needs to be the perfect word.
And so I’m sitting here, in my three-day-old-sweatpants, handpicking every single precious word I write. I’m lining them up all over again to tell the same story, but without the kinks. And I’m doing it because, this time, I have other people to please. I have an editor and an agent, and hopefully, after the book’s May 1st release, I’ll have readers. If I’m lucky, a whole hoard of them. And these people – the ones I am lining the words up for all over again – will not give a rat’s pajamas that I wore the same sweatpants for three days. They’ll only care about the words that came out of me while I was wearing them. And I want them to love every single perfect one.