Friday, October 15, 2010
too young to burn
Okay, well, The Marbury Lens is coming out in a few weeks and something has happened to my brain. I think I'm dreading it. I don't know.
A year ago, I was working on revisions on the manuscript.
Now, it's coming out.
A year ago, I wrote a piece about the Five Stages of Revision.
At the moment, I'm currently revising something for my agent, who really is very smart. As despondent as I've become over the release, this current revision, the copy edits for Stick, and another entirely different fourth project I'm working on, too, work gets pretty difficult and there's just no breathing space. This is why I've hoped to shape November into National NOT WRITING Month, at least for me.
I'll probably fail at this, anyway.
So, I thought I would revisit this bit about revising, from 2009 (note the use of the great-big-giant ME):
I realize that with every book I've written so far, I have gone through a similar process in dealing with editorial revisions... a kind of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross 5-step process in coming to terms with working with my agent/editor and revising my work. If you are unfamiliar with Kubler-Ross, she is responsible for identifying "The Five Steps of Grief" -- Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. I think these steps have a lot in common with the revision process, so here I submit MY Five Stages of Revising:
Stage One: "Skimming"
Skimming is the first thing that happens with an editorial letter. During this event, the subject refuses to sit down and actually read the entirety of the letter, choosing instead to skim through it for words like "perfection" and "brilliant." Very much like Kubler-Ross' Denial, during this stage, the subject may also internally vocalize such statements as... Gee, why is this letter so long when it only takes a few words to express how brilliant and flawless my work is?
Stage Two: "I am a Douchebag. I Can't Do This. I Quit."
During Stage Two, the subject has actually taken the time to read the letter. This is when he will usually realize that the editorial diagnosis was correct, a second opinion from the buddy who still owes him a six-pack of Coors Light for kicking his ass at Polish Horseshoes is unwarranted, and the editor/agent has made some keen observations -- leaving a trail of Zen-like, unanswerable questions that frequently result in thoughts of suicide, cutting off one's typing fingers and running away to become "Flipper Boy" in the circus, or any number of self-destructive and career-ending missteps.
Stage Three: "Postponing the Deadline"
"If only I can buy more time," the subject bargains with himself during Stage Three, "then maybe I can do something truly significant with my life -- like organizing my iTunes library." It is while in Stage Three that the subject will attempt to devise a deadline date that is either unreasonably impossible to meet, or falls during a time when the editor/agent is on vacation in a location where there are no cell phones or internet access.
Stage Four: "Commencing the Operation"
During this stage, the subject has resigned himself to the inevitable: it's not going to write itself, douchebag. As Kubler-Ross suggests occurs during step 4 of grief, there's no sense trying to cheer the author up at this point, he is going to be a miserable, foul-mouthed, impossible-to-live-with sonofabitch once he actually begins the work and admits to himself, "Gee! I'm on page one of 412. I hate myself."
And then, several hours later: "Yippee! Now I'm halfway through the first sentence on page one of 412."
Stage Five: "The Revelation"
It all boils down to this: At Stage Five, the subject finally realizes that only now can words like "perfection" and "brilliant" be applied to the work. Or at least "pretty good." He has gone through the first four steps, struggled with understanding his directions, and allowed himself to be guided into producing something far better in quality than he might have done on his own.
Unfortunately, he may revert to Stage Two as a result of this revelation.