Thursday, January 10, 2008

Why Revision Matters

As I meticulously make my way through this set of revisions, I'm reminded of one reason so few people are capable of producing a publishable novel. A lot of folks are blessed with talent, and a fair percentage of them also have the required stubbornness (or arrogance, depending on how you choose to look at it) to persist through the submission-rejection cycle. Of these, an even smaller subset will read widely, study the industry, and get an accurate feel for the market segment they wish to target. That still leaves a lot of people, but of this group, even fewer will have the focus and attention to detail it takes to go through the same manuscript the number of times it takes to bring out its potential.

We used to live in a world that produced a lot more patient craftsmanship, a world that understood and valued the tireless pursuit of one's best effort. Today's faster-paced society, with its swift travel, lightning-fast communications, and emphasis on rapid-fire production, doesn't create as many individuals prepared for the arduous effort needed to pore through four hundred pages (and then some, in my case) of character arcs, plot elements, rising action, themes, etc. and attend to each detail. It's a shame, a real loss, but there are those of us who still enjoy it
-- or at least resolve to suffer through it -- to do our best by the story. Since we're flawed and human, the finished product will never be perfection, but even so, there's a quiet type of joy to be gained in the pursuit.


Toni Lea Andrews said...

I think my background working for a big corporation made me a good revisor. I was used to being rejected. I went to soooo many meetings where the sole purpose seemed to be to allow management to shoot down my labors like so much skeet.

So when my editor suggests I cut something or change something, I JUST DO IT.

This is not to say I do not heartily despise the self-editing process. I have various devices that help me do it, but it's still like chewing aluminum foil...

Colleen Thompson said...

Thanks for stopping by, Toni Lea. I think it's important to get to a place where you can separate your ego from you work and really listen to the criticism. Not all of it will be valuable, but it sounds as if your background prepared to accept what is.

And as for chewing foil - yeowch! Great simile, though. :)


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