I am writing this whilst currently trapped between two worlds; Earth and the planets of revising and editing. Send in the Stranger Things kids. Someone has to bust me out of here.
The First Draft Love Affair
I have a deeper love for first drafts now that I’m revising my thriller novel.
First drafts are sneaky buggers. They seduce you into writing. They make you think it will be easy.
You can type strange words, make errors, whack out typos with aplomb. None of that matters in first draft utopia because you remind yourself it can be sorted it out when I’m revising and editing.
I now curse my First Draft self (FDS).
FDS believes in fairies, Father Christmas, the Tooth Fairy and that chocolate cures all ills. Scratch that last one. I’m not ready to give up on that yet.
FDS is a happy soul. She has the occasional issue with plot and self-doubt. She shakes it off because this is just a first draft and by writing law standards it’s meant to be crap.
Revising Self (RS) is going back in time to give FDS a firm boot up the arse.
The Read-Through Station
RS gears up. I am ready to engage with FDS.
I’m an astronaut venturing from a planet of sunshineyness to the dark side of the moon – reading through the first draft.
I am ready and armed with a red pen, printer ink, a vat of coffee, and a ‘killer of all defunct words’ attitude.
I tell myself I’ll just read it and try not to correct much. apart from the most obvious errors.
Then I begin.
I read it through on paper, fooling myself that if it’s printed, it looks like a book. rather than mashed up scenes whacked together.
I unearth my old English teacher self and unleash the red pen. I laugh as I remember how I was advised never to mark children’s work with red pen because it is damaging to them. Yes. Really.
I psychologically damage myself with the red marks of doom and buy a shit load of purple pens instead. Purple is pretty.
Purple scrawled notes and crossings out negate purple as a friendly colour.
I hate pens.
The Second Draft Planet
This is a scary place. You avoid it for as long as possible.
Once you venture there, you are trapped forever in revision. Your RS kills your FDS.
You step a toe on to the planet. You’ll just look at the opening for now.
The opening is the hardest part of the novel.
Don’t you know that by the time you get to the squillionth draft you’ll have revised it so many times your main character will change sex, job, life, issues, and you will probably even change your own name in the process because why should she/he get to be the only one who goes through changes?
You leave the opening.
You’re going to be a maverick and do it at the end because leaving the hardest things for last is always a smart move.
Curse my RS.
Planet Hopping of Revisions
There is no going back. SOS to all my friends and family. I’m not sure I will ever return.
I cannot speak your language anymore. My written words have rendered me tongue-tied. I have worded too much and I cannot offer you them in verbal form.
I am trapped in a wormhole of revisions.
Each time I jump through a loop, fooled into thinking it will bring freedom, I know it’s a trap. Star Wars cannot save me now.
I jump from one planet to another; from second draft, to third, to fourth, and further. It really is to infinity and beyond. There is no end in sight.
The revision aliens have stolen my mind.
The Evil Planet of Editing
I can barely write about this place. It’s that terrifying.
I thought I was proficient in my mother tongue. It turns out I’m not.
English becomes a new language. I doubt if I ever taught my students properly and wonder how I acquired a Masters in English.
The shame of getting italics, quotation marks, dialogue, and even freaking capital letters wrong, renders me immobile.
Goodbye Earth. This will be my final resting place.
Gasping for Air
Then an injection of air deliciously fills up my lungs.
I’ve edited the crap out of the novel, still not sure it’s right, but I’m going to pay an editor millions to sort that out.
Back Down to Earth
Revisions and editing are done for now. It’s time to communicate with the outside world and do peopling stuff.
I gasp at every breath of fresh air, knowing beta reading is to come.
I decide that if I lay in bed forever I won’t have to move. Someone will find my novel one day and finish it for me.
After 30 days, and stinking like a bog from stagnating in bed, I pull up my big girl pants (clean ones) and get my space suit on.
I’m going back in. Revising planet here I come.