In my free time this month, the project at hand is the first pass of revisions for Project Tennyson. Which means that every night after our
hearthen darling children reluctantly embark on their nightly journey off to Dreamland, I huddle over my keyboard and begin nitpicking my words.
Often times, this process boils down to something like a ten minute internal debate over the pros and cons of using the word “shenanigans” in chapter 4 as opposed to “monkeyshines”. Repeat 100,000 times.
Some writers adored the revision process like a new mother preening over an infant. It’s all cooing and baby talk and “ooohs” and “aaaahs” and “who’s so pretty” and “did manuscript make a poopy in this paragraph? Let’s get that cleaned up nice and neat.”
Other word slingers, though, spend the majority of their revision time self-medicating with a combination of street pharmaceuticals, aerosolized whipped cream, and cheap gin. They barricade themselves into a dark, sealed room and go about their bloody business with the red pen in solitude. And if you interrupt them before they come out their own, they will shrink against the light, growl like a wounded, defensive animal, and cry out, “Look away! I’m hideous!”
They may or may not end up setting fire to their own work just to prove a point.
Personally, I tend to fall some place in between. I don’t hate or loathe editing, to be sure. It’s an essential part of the process and it almost universally tends to make one’s work even stronger. That said, the impatient twelve year-old in me hates revising with all the passion of a Greek god. Whenever I finish a first draft, I get so excited for other people to read it, I start bouncing up and down and counting the minutes until I can let someone who’s not encumbered with my obvious prejudice take a gander at it. Unfortunately, though, it’s actually more like weeks and weeks before someone ever lays another eyeball on it.
The unfortunate alternative, of course, (and this has happened to me in the past) is that I’ll rush through the editing stage and send my beloved baby novel out it into the world too early, full of half-formed or half-executed ideas and sloppy as a toddler’s first attempt to eat spaghetti with meat sauce. And, yes, I have read chapters that made me think of flinging pasta all over the room and curling it into my hair.
So, then, what’s a young (shut up; I mean in experience, not age) author to do? Well, you buckle down and do what you gotta do. And occasionally, while you’re at it, you give yourself a night off (or at least cut the workload in half for once), and bake yourself a nice treat.
In my case, that usually means a buckle. If you don’t know, a buckle is a type of coffee cake, usually baked with fresh fruit. I know, I know: bake? Baking is hard. Baking takes practice. Baking is for people who can sign their names legibly to greeting cards!
Well, as it turns out, baking a buckle is about as easy as buckling on your boot. And yes, even I can manage it from time to time. Which is exactly what I did last night instead of editing like I was supposed to be.
Behold! My Mixed Berry Buckle of Joy, Wonder, and Editing Procrastination!
Thus, duly fortified with a baked treat, tonight I can head back into the Deep, Dark, Caverns of Revision, that place where the adverbs go to die.
PS: If you want the recipe, either to make one yourself or just to prove that, yes, that does, in fact, sound simple enough for even ol’ Mitten Hands Puddin to bake with a reasonable expectation of success), I use Alton Brown’s Blueberry Buckle recipe from Foodnetwork.com with an even mix of blueberries and raspberries. I recommend giving it a try. Just think of all the happy coworkers you’ll have, as the fortunate benefactors of your sudden urge to make something. Good luck!