This post is going to be about revising. It will not be anywhere near as good as this post about revising, but I figured I’d give it a whirl anyway. I’ve gotten fairly familiar with how this process works for me, and as you all know by now, ’tis the summer of revision around here.
I started with my agent notes, both e-mailed and scrawled in my almost-illegible handwriting from a phone call. I read them. I re-read them. I highlighted specific things that really jumped out at me.
I talked to two of my dearest betas about it. I wrote down what they had to say. I read & re-read.
I pulled out my old notebooks, ones that dated back to ’08, and looked for things that I hadn’t used that I might be able to work with now. I pulled out a couple of pages worth of notes.
I took all of these notes, from agent and betas and the 2008 version of me, and transcribed the stuff I found most useful into a new notebook.
I started adding snippets of new scenes, bits of dialogue, hypothetical questions.
I made a gigantic timeline. I got a dry erase board to hang by the desk. So far it just looks cool and office-y, but I’m sure it’ll come in handy later.
I had more discussions with betas. I started having revelations. I began pulling possibilities from lists of ideas.
Now, I’m taking all of this stuff and developing it into full scenes. I’ve hit the writing stage, the really writing stage, after several weeks of this pre-writing process.
So far, I have not once looked back at the previous draft.
Why? Well, I already know what’s there. What I need is what’s *not* there yet, so I’m finding those things elsewhere, in notes and conversations and daydreams and at the bottom of cups of tea.
So I can take the new and layer it back over the old.
I’ve come to realize that I need to see it in my head as a different book, first. I have to find the shape of the new draft before I can mold the old draft into it. I can’t just go into the old draft and start pushing it around and filling in holes.
I have to develop the new draft and then work backwards. I need that picture, that vision of the new version, in order to get there.
This is how I revise. I have to get to the point where my brain can see where I’m going, and then it’s just a matter of writing to get there.
That’s not to say I know exactly how to get there, there are still hic sunt dracones parts of the map, but there is something resembling a map now.
I just got this beautiful book of Jerry Uelsmann photography. He does these gorgeous layered photos, made with multiple negatives in a darkroom, nothing digital.
It’s amazing stuff, and being in the head space that I’m in right now, it’s reminding me of how I revise. I’m finding new images to layer over the old ones. Not to obscure what was there before, but to elevate it into something else.