Editing My Novel Again: The Joy of Revision-ing

Lately I've been revising what will be my second novel, A MAP OF HEAVEN. This novel has rich significance to me because it is the first novel I wrote after my father passed away eleven years ago and because, to this day, it remains my favorite novel. It's also a book that I've revised and sent out several times over the years, always to no avail.

Last month, when I unpacked one of the many bound versions I had packed away in storage, I hadn't looked at the manuscript in over five years. In fact, because I've gone through so many computers in that time, I found out that I didn't even have a complete version of my longest draft of the novel on my hard drive.

This means that my revision process has entailed working from one version I have on my hard drive, while referring to a printed version that is twice as long, trying to figure out what has been left out and needs to be added back in from one page to the next. Oh and I've decided to change the POV from first person to third. Don't try this during cocktail hour.

Yet, as I work through the manuscript page by page, I come across sentences and images that I know so well that I find myself smiling as I type the words. I love them.

There are moments when I wonder why I am so obsessed with working on this novel yet again, when I have already failed so many times to get it right. Ultimately, the answer is that the subject matter is incredibly important to me. Interestingly, I can see in my mind's eye the book as it should be, what I want it to be. My greatest desire is find a way to bring that image to reality.

Last week I picked up the May issue of More magazine and read an article by Kathryn Stockett on how she spent eight years editing THE HELP, along the way enduring sixty rejections, before it was finally accepted and published. I understand Ms. Stockett's passion for her story, because I've come to realize that it is the same love I feel for MAP.

Embracing that epiphany makes this latest and hopefully final revision a joyful journey. I'd even wager that it will be just as joyful even if it isn't.

Do you have a writing project that you just can't get out of your mind?


Anonymous said…
YESYes. I can't think what it is now but I know I do. Like wise picture to paint and sound to make. Weird, huh?
Keetha said…
(clapping my hands) What a great post - you can feel your enthusiasm from it. I'm thrilled for you!
This must be very "wow" - looking at this again after so many years. I always have a bunch of projects going - sometimes leave them for months at a time, then go back ... And I look at the work I did 5 years ago and usually say P.U.
larramiefg said…
Interested in another pair of eyes?
Larramie.....yes. Actually, after I get this edit done, I'd like to hire an editor.
Karen A Smith said…
I recently picked up a short story I had written two years ago. I liked the characters I had started to create, the setting, and plot. But even as I was writing it, I thought a short was too short to do it justice. I am currently playing with it, POV, etc. Still not sure about using first person on this one. Care to discuss over cocktails? :-)
One of the great things about going back to an old piece was realizing how much I had grown as a writer.
You've taken the advice to "set your finished project aside for awhile before going back to edit, in order to look at it with fresh eyes," to the max, LOL! Truly though, this has my own writing experience written all over it. The beauty of picking up that long ago writing project is that in the interim you've generally learned a lot better perfected everything about your writing style, so if there are things you still love about your oldie projects, it's often well worth jumping back in and getting to work putting the polish on the apple.

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