13. “After vision, comes revision” (George Garrett’s ‘You Are Adam, You Are Eve’)
It’s become time for revision. For editing. And I’m still trying to figure it all out.
I’m reading what I can, taking notes on revision tips and editing (the main one: keep your manuscript in a drawer for some amount of time, which I am stubbornly not accepting).
My best learning so far: search for ‘revision’ in terms of what I’m doing and not ‘editing’. Somehow, that’s made a world of difference in what I’m finding. Semantics!
It’s been a bit disappointing because I’ve searched for methods of doing revision, tactical strategies for reading over my text. And mostly what I’ve found are big-picture pieces of advice about the approach, and then generally writing tips to help shape the words. And that’s all good, but I want something more specific. How much time should I spend reading vs writing? How about reading out loud? How to leave notes for myself later and keep that organized?
And here comes revision. I don’t know if it’s totally and completely “after vision”. It still feels like that’s being worked on, but I think I get the point. A play on words here between revising your draft and re-envisioning the story.
Essentially, you have to do both.
As Einstein once put it, “No worthy problem is solved in the plane of its original conception.”
And so I adjust planes, as a writer must—from the place where a vision first came, to a new place where that vision is seen anew, adjusted, molded, and ultimately, redone.
Still, my question that I face now is how to do it. So that’s what I’ve been doing this week, scouring articles and guides on how to do this whole thing. I’ve found some good ones and some bad ones and have pages full of notes (and quotes). Here are some of the latter.
“Throw up into your typewriter every morning. Clean up every noon.” - Raymond Chandler
“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” - Stephen King
“My pencils outlast their erasers.” - Vladimir Nabakov
These are wonderful platitudes, but it’s going to be a big work-in-progress to figure out how I clean up the mess, how to kill my darlings, and how to use up these erasers. That part is not given much; and likely because it’s a personal endeavor.
This being my first time doing a large scale revision of any kind, means I need to find mine.