IWSG: Got the Revise-My-Novel, Looks-Like-Work Blues


It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means time for the IWSG!

The purpose of the IWSG: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Fear of Revisions

Okay, that header is a lie. I'm not afraid of revisions. I'm just lazy. There. I said it. I'm at that point where I am taking the big globby gloppy mess that is my first draft, looking at it with a cold and detached eye, and considering what must be done to make it right. I got spoiled with my last two books. Those were not only pretty well planned, but things went right with the plan, and the first draft really wasn't too bad. This time, the plan was weak and the execution spotty, and now I'm looking at a lot of work. Work that maybe no one but me cares if I get done, some part of my mind tries to tell me.

I'm set to do it, though. I did my first read-though and outlined what I had (oh-oh). Then I figured out where I needed to be (oh, man!). I looked at what was wrong with so many of the chapters/stories (ugh). I have to take a moment here to note that I"m working on the third book in the Ninja Librarian/Skunk Corners series, and these books are intentionally episodic, with each chapter meant to be a free-standing story in which the Librarian (or Big Al, the narrator, or some of the other townspeople) solves a  problem. That's exactly how it worked in the first book. In the second book, it was a little harder, because I was telling more of an over-arching story, too, but I managed to work it out for the most part.

This book is much the most novelistic of the three, and I've struggled with the change. The format matters; part of the books' appeal is the ability to read a chapter at a time and have a satisfying story (a bonus for reluctant readers and busy adults alike). But what I found when I read my draft was that a lot of my chapters had no real point, no problem, and nothing to make them stand alone. That's not the end of the world--but it wasn't what I was looking for. And it's not so easy to make them work that way while also keeping the overarching story in motion. I set myself a good challenge with that one!

Nor did the big story grow in the way I wanted it to. All told, I have a huge mess. And a huge mess is something that takes a lot of work to fix. It requires that I slap aside the tickling urge to start another book and focus on the problem. This is when it would help to have an agent sending me emails asking when I'll have it done, or someone threatening to withhold all chocolate if I don't get to work. Alas, I have no such outside pressure. I have to invent my own.

And that means saying "no" to distractions, from Facebook to demands that I attend meetings and events at all times and days. Of course, I have obligations and can't push them all aside. By the time you read this, I'll be on my way to a 3-day conference on issues in education for African American students (that's part of my other existence as a member of a local school board). It's an important topic, and definitely worthwhile--but I need to be sure to carve out at least a little time for my revisions every day. It might work. I have my plan, and extensive notes. If I just don't completely lose my focus, I'll...what? Where was I?...

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2016
Curious about the Ninja Librarian? Click the covers for the Amazon links!


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