Encore: Good Grief! Revision in Five Stages

Within a single hour this week, I received a batch of edits for one manuscript and a revision letter for another, which interrupted yet another set of revisions. Whew!

As overwhelming as it can be, I took heart, remembering this 2009 post I wrote for BtO. Thought it would be worth reposting because every writer who ever finishes and sends out a manuscript is likely to get gobsmacked by revisions. It's only those who learn to handle it who go on to be pros.

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As I wend my way through a particularly challenging batch of revisions, I was brought to mind of the Kubler-Ross model on the stages of grief, which is all too apt in chronicling the reactions of your average working writer.

1. Denial - Surely, the editor doesn't mean my masterpiece! This must have gone out to the wrong author by mistake.

2. Anger - What the (insert strongest, vilest expletive that comes to mind)? Who do those stupid hacks think they are, screwing with me like this? Are they @#$! blind? (Ranting continues, either in the form of silent fuming or a epic hissy fit. If you're very lucky, no phone calls or e-mails to the involved parties originate during this stage and your loved ones have learned to ignore you at this point.)

3. Bargaining - If I change just this one little thing, that'll make it sort of okay, right? You surely didn't mean to imply I have to rewrite the whole, entire...

Oh, no you didn't.

4. Depression - I clearly suck, and everyone else has just been too kind to tell me. Or maybe they're all winking and laughing behind my back. There are septic slugs with more talent, deranged dabblers who smell of old potatoes who write better. I am vile, useless... (reaches for Help Wanted section of paper and checks out listing for fast food clerks.) Writer's block ensues, sometimes for long periods when writers get stuck in this stage.

5. Acceptance. Oh, all right. I guess I'm going to have to do it, so I must as well dig in and make a decent effort. Hey, wait a minute. These changes really do make the story better, and you know, it's getting good here. I'm getting waaay into this again! (Remainder of world peels away as writer falls back in love with his/her own story.)

I'm not sure if it helps knowing we go through these stages, but at least I'm getting a good laugh - at myself and my process.

Comments

I think I just cut straight to the depression stage these days. So not fun.
Jeanna Thornton said…
Oh, poor baby...my friend and inspiration...(I loved your comments about denial.) Hey, they have to get up pretty early to discourage CT...go get 'em!!! Get 'er done! (Can you tell I just returned from Dogwood?)
I just put on my "I'll show them face" and finished my edits and the revision of a synopsis. I have a full ms. revision, too, but I'm on the case after the holiday. I have some a little merrymaking and a whole lot of cooking to attend to first.

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