Thursday, June 10, 2010
Going around my elbow to get to my nose
When it comes to revisions, sometimes I resemble nothing so much as a plane circling an airport, waiting for a landing strip to open up.
A departure from my usual "this is step A, this is step B" approach, revisions are rather circuitous for me. Tawna Fenske, Nelsa Roberto and another critique partner of mine, Stephanie Bose, have been privy to my inelegant approach to starting revisions. I've nearly driven them insane with my mumbled, "No, no, THAT won't work," when they offered me a suggested fix.
For me, it's about as fun as being dunked in a croaker-sack full of itching powders.* I keep hitting the same walls, treading the same paths, knowing that there's something that I'm missing, feeling like an ingrate for not seeing the sparkling genius of my friends' fixes. And, most of all, feeling like a pluperfect idiot for having to fix the blasted manuscript in the first place.
My revision process starts with a lot of talking. It's absolutely critical that I rehash the plot with my CPs, preferably by phone. While they may feel that an hour's talk on the subject accomplishes nothing except getting dizzy from following me around in circles and hearing me say, "No, no, THAT won't work," it actually helps a lot.
During the phone calls or the volley of e-mails, I just keep saying, "But the reason he's like that is because ..."
When I have enough "becauses," I finally get a detailed job description of the revision, everything it's supposed to accomplish, every problem it's supposed to solve.
That's when a lightning bolt of a solution will hit me, and I will get tingles because it solves SO many problems that I was trying to figure out. Lovely, lovely tingles. Just when I had practically given up on myself. Of course, then I pound fist to forehead and ask myself why I went round my elbow to get to my nose.
*It occurs to me that I need to translate the idiom "a croaker-sack full of itching powders." A croaker sack is alternately known as a tow sack, a gunny sack, a burlap sack, or a feed sack -- picture the sack you'd be presented with if you were in a sack race. There's no such thing as itching powders, but you can imagine how you'd feel if there were, and it was a whole croaker-sack full and ...
Well, hopefully you get the pix. I'm off to scratch now.