A small plane flies over an unmapped island floating in the middle of an ocean. The pilot circles the island in search of the runway. She trusts it’s down there, somewhere. Those with experience making this flight have promised the runway exists. The pilot wants to believe them. But she carries doubt like an extra bag stuffed into the hold. This is her first trip to the island. Assurances that the runway will reveal itself with sufficient time and persistence are not comforting when the gas gauge runs low.
The pilot considers her choices. She can keep circling the island hoping the runway will appear like a miracle. She can give up and turn back towards the horizon of failed dreams and disappointments. She can take her chances and change course, set this destination aside (for now). Perhaps there’s another island—one with a more visible runway—not too far away.
The pilot decides to keep circling, praying the Goddess of Creativity will grace her with a solution to the runway problem. Hoping that one day, she’ll finally be able to land the damn plane on the Island of Good Enough.
This is what I want to tell people when they ask, “How’s the book coming along?”
Instead, I typically say something like, “Slow.” Or “Fine.”
The simple truth is that revising a novel is just as challenging for me as writing the first draft was. This is because, once again, I’m “learning by doing.” Most days I feel like I’m not piloting a plane at all, but flying by the proverbial seat of my pants, no clue as to what I’m doing, no guarantee I’m even still on course.
Revision is also arduous due to the sheer number of choices involved. Every word. Every sentence. Every character trait or behavior, every salient sensory detail, every snippet of action or dialogue presents an opportunity to either retain what’s been written or change it. Or (gasp!) to delete it entirely. When you have perfectionist tendencies, as I do, having too many choices can be paralyzing. When you have an analytical brain, as I do, it’s easy to over think things. Honestly, it’s a wonder so many books get written (and published) each year.
But I keep circling around the island anyway, with or without a plane. Because the challenge of making the story better is too compelling for me to give up. At least not yet. I still believe in my story. I believe it deserves to be told. And I still believe I’m the right person to tell it.
“So, how long before it’s published?” That’s another sweet question I get asked. I smile when that happens. Because while I have no doubt I will one day land the plane that is my novel, there’s no guarantee it will ever find a willing hangar to call home. That’s why I’m trying to enjoy the flight for what it is. An interesting, sometimes captivating, sometimes frustrating journey. And why I continue to pray there’s enough gas left to hit the runway when it finally decides to appear.
3 thoughts on “Revision”
Wishing you stamina, Cathy, in editing your book. I will look forward to reading it one day.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Every time I started to read this something happened and I had to stop! Just read it all the way through and loved it. I could see myself
Realized this was still open on my laptop but I had never “liked” it. So glad to be a wingwoman with you on this journey. Confident the runway(s) will appear.
LikeLiked by 1 person