I can’t sleep. It’s 4:19 am.
I think it’s because of the pounds of food I ate at the Olive Garden last night. Or the tight pants I sleep in. I can’t decide. At least I’ll get to watch the dangerous happenings in my neighborhood that occur at this time of night.
Now, for tip #4: Revise yourself to eloquence.
If you’ll remember, the last tip was to let the writing lead you. To let go of your grip on the narrative and allow it to breathe. Allow it to take you where it needs to go.
This tip is the opposite. You have to take back control (once the first draft is finished) and shape it into something beautiful.
Lance says: “Just as you must be willing to lower your standards, at first, and write sloppily and inventively, not knowing what you will produce, you must at a later stage step in and revise without mercy.”
You have to be ruthless. You have to be honest. You have to allow your critical eye (and other’s critical eye) to step in and push you to make the book the piece that it could be.
We’ve talked about this before. Every part of the writing process is a process. It takes time, patience and discipline.
I love revision. It is painful but it’s worth it.
One time an editor told me I needed to take out two characters. Two BIG characters. I was like, uh, say what? I need those people. But as I thought about it, and read and reread, I realized that they weren’t as integral to the story as I thought. Of course once I took them out, every other scene in the book needed to change. And I had no middle to my book. I basically had to rewrite the whole thing. I complained. I cried. I ate. But in the end, after hours of work, the book was better.
We should never ever shy away from revision. From knocking things about. From working our bums off.
Annie Dillard said:
At its best, the sensation of writing is that of any unmerited grace. It is handed to you, but only if you look for it. You search, you break your heart, your back, your brain, and then-and only then-it is handed to you.
Are you searching? Are your breaking your heart? Your back? And most importantly, your brain? Are you brave enough to tear apart your precious work of art in order to let it become what it has the potential to become?