But there's just one problem with that—I LOVE what revising does to my books. When it comes down to it, revision is what makes my books worth reading. They might have potential in draft form, but without a serious commitment to making that book better? Yeah, it's just not enough. It's like deciding to bake a cake, but getting tired after you make the batter and just deciding to serve it as is. Which, hey, batter is yummy, but that whole raw egg thing is an issue. It's not finished. You can't serve batter to people and expect them to compliment you on your excellent baking skills. Nor can you serve a half-baked cake. Or one without frosting. And hey, people will love it even more if it's pretty and decorated.
Great, now I want cake.
Anyway, while I don't think I will ever LOVE editing, I have come to respect it as a big part of the process. A big part of the reason I was able to sell a book. I used to see revision as The Enemy. It was this thing meant to tear down me and my work; it made me feel bad about my abilities as a writer; it was a roadblock in my path to publication. Even now, it reminds me I'm not perfect, and that is not something a perfectionist likes to hear.
There was a point where my mentality changed. And I know the exact point. I used to revise because I HAD to. That's what everyone told me I should do, but my heart was never in it. I revised for my crit partners. And, yes, I even revised for my agent. I grit my teeth and did what I was told, and unfortunately my lack of passion showed. My book was failing on sub when I sent my agent another...
...and that agent told me to rewrite the whole thing.
Basically, I was told the book was not well conceived. It didn't work, and the only thing that could save it was if I restarted at page one. My first reaction was shock. It wasn't as if I handed over a first draft—I'd spent half a year "revising" it. Then I got angry. How could my agent demand so much? Then I just crashed, wondered why I was even writing in the first place.
After a month of thinking about my book, I decided to rewrite. I came to some very important conclusions: First, yes, my agent was right. The book wasn't enough as it was. And secondly, this story deserved my best effort.
It was probably the first time I ever thought about my story separate from what I wanted. It was the first time I committed to doing what it took for a novel to truly be its best. Maybe I hated revisions. Maybe I didn't want to rewrite or admit I got it wrong the first time, but for some reason I felt like I owed it to that story, those characters. My goal changed from getting a book published to making that book what it deserved to be, and the only way to do that was to revise the crap out it. And there was A LOT of crap.
Well, that book was TRANSPARENT, and I don't think it's a coincidence that it's also the first novel I was able to sell. It was my 10th novel, and maybe it's sad that it took me so long to figure out the real purpose of revision but I'm glad I eventually got there.
I've finally learned that, while I will never like revision, it's what turns my good idea into an actual book. I've learned that I have to treat my first drafts with respect, and the only way to do that is to make them what they deserve to be. Alas, that means I have to do what it takes to make my drafts into novels.