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Why They Call It “Revision Hell”

By on Sunday, Oct 7, 2012 in Revision Hell, Writing Life | 2 comments

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I’ve recently had the great pleasure of coming back into the real world after a month of revisions. How you know you might need to detox if you’ve had a similar experience:

–An entire wardrobe of sweats is critical to survival (including my favorite sweats I call my writing pants). But the one time you wear them out (because you’ve deteriorated to the point where you just don’t give a fig any more and all you want is just to be DONE), you will meet everyone you know–and they will all be dressed in their nice work clothes, making you feel a bit pathetic. Moral of this story: grocery shop early or late, or dress better going out!

–The mail pile becomes a mail avalanche.

–Ditto for laundry.

–You begin calling your children by your characters’ names, OR

–You walk around the house talking to yourself (or others) in an English accent.

–Correlary:  You begin calling your husband’s by your hero’s name…

–…or (more commonly) your villain’s!

–Instead of asking what’s for dinner? your kids start asking you what kind of takeout we’re ordering tonight.

–For company, you devise numerous ways to cheat on housework, stashing things in closets, closing doors, and tossing away everything en masse that has rotted in the fridge. You never put water on your kitchen floor unless totally forced.(i.e., some kid spills a sticky beverage that makes noise when someone walks on it or the dog barfs).

–So far, there is no shortcut I’ve discovered to cleaning bathrooms. (If anyone has, let me know!)

–Your back and fingers ache from scrunching yourself over a keyboard all day and skipping your exercise classes. Warning: skipping physical activity for fear of  “it takes too much time” is a hazard to sanity! (Will I ever learn this?)

–Every time you sit down at your keyboard, you start to twitch and your skin begins to crawl.

–You feel that if you so much as look at another cup of coffee you’re going to hurl.

–You never want to see Thesaurus.com again.

–You feel that you can probably work on your manuscript forever and it will never be done. This is the hell part. Am I fixing it, making it better, or am I ruining it?? Will it ever be done?

–You finally get the courage to push send, and release your literary child into the universe, subjecting it to potential criticism and of course, rejection. This is reminiscient of dropping your first kid off at the first day of preschool. If only you can protect her from the bullies of the world! The kids that won’t like her! But she has to go out into the world…and hey, preschool might have its knocks, but it’s mostly fun!

Lastly, the nail biting continues as you wait in desperate hope, but not too much hope. Tempered by caution. And the experience of multiple “no’s.”  

You wash your hair, do some TJ Maxx therapy, clean your house, kiss your kids, see your friends again, maybe even make dinner and then…you start a new manuscript. You leave the outcome to fate, knowing you’ve done the best you can possibly do.

I think I can finally call myself a writer now. 

Peace-inspiring scene, the Atlantic coast this summer.