I’m in the throes of final revisions. Toss me a lifeline. Or at least some really fine imported dark chocolate.
There are several times when writing a novel is no fun. The first is the middle of the book. Middles are always sucky. There’s no way around it.
They’re swamps that you just have to wade through, never being able to see more than a few inches ahead and full of traps, quicksand, and dangerous predators.
Every writer I know—and some of them are multiple NYT bestsellers—hates herself or himself and the book while in the middle. Once you emerge into the end, the pace steps up, your excitement returns, and you stop feeling your book is horrible and deformed. By the last page, you’re in love with it again.
In the first read-through and the revisions that come from that, you see problems, but it all looks fixable, and you’re stunned at how basically good the book actually is—or has the potential to be. Your beta reader told you about things that need work, but also said the book was going to be great. So you wade in and start hacking this off here and moving it over there, cutting out these and adding that, beefing up this character and toning down that one. You feel like you’re doing good work.
Then, you start on the final revision. This is not the last editing your book will get, of course. You’ll do line edits and proof it before sending it off to agent and editor where they will find new things that need fixing, and you’ll love them for it. This is just the final big structural revision before it goes out to others because anything else will need another good eye. (Every writer needs at least one good editor, no matter how good a writer and editor she is herself.)
This is where you’re making all the major and difficult changes that you left for later because they were major and difficult. This is where you’re honing theme and correcting pacing and making sure you use all the senses throughout and that you keep the reader engaged all the time.
This is where you hack your way into the jungle of book with a mental picture of how you’ll carve out a gorgeous estate with a palatial residence, and then you get lost, and your bearers run off with the last of your food and water. You have to keep moving because if you don’t, you will sit down and cry as you starve to death.
This is where I am right now. I have come through this before. I know I will again. I continue repeating this mantra to myself as I keep cutting a path for myself. It’s not that I hate the book, as in the sucky middle. This time it’s that I’m afraid I’ll… Let. The. Book. Down.
But I’ve promised to have this done and send the book off to my incredible agent, and I have to make it something good enough to send her. I think I’ll have my husband take me out for dinner, and I’ll buy some luscious imported chocolate. And tomorrow, I’ll head back into the jungle of final revision.