I spent the winter full of Library Tuesdays working on revising my second novel, THE BIRTHRIGHT OF PARKER CLEAVES, after realizing I hated it and it wasn't ready for query AT ALL. I ended up doing the usual cutting of 10,000 words and rearranged whole sections and considered dumping the entire thing because ohmygodIsuckatnovels.
It's a little short right now, but I'm at that point where I don't know what it needs to edge it into recommended length. And then there's that part of me that wonders why those rules even apply when so many people read books digitally and word count was probably made up by someone more looking for the sweet spot in printing costs rather than pondering how many words it takes to tell a good story. Then my mind goes into an existential crisis about the relevance of anyone's words long-term and it's time for a snack.
Last weekend while we were driving home from my MIL's house in Cedar Rapids, I elected to sit in the back seat, determined to make the final pass through my printed-out manuscript before I hand it off to a trusted reader. I didn't know what I'd find. Before I printed it, I moved so many sections around I wasn't sure if I'd need to write more connective tissue or what. It surprised me that so many scenes that I mushed together out of three or four little orphaned pieces chapters apart made any sense at all. Obviously I kept thinking she should really talk to her dad again more than once but didn't write enough in any one place to have a scene. This writing thing is stupid hard.
I've spent the past three years working on this novel. There are parts I really like, and then I'm certain if I read it in two weeks I'll actually hate it. I think right now there are maybe five good sentences in the whole damn thing. Tonight I'm going to the library to make the final corrections from the backseat and move a few more sections around, then I should let it steep for a few weeks before I read it again.
I don't know if I can bear to read it again.
But I don't trust myself to be even remotely right about anything when it comes to my writing these days. My daughter asked me if I liked revising, most likely catching a glimpse of my anguished expression in the rearview mirror. It's hard to explain. Do I like running, even when it hurts? Do I prefer to have run but hate the process? Writing is kind of like running.
I love it, I hate it, I'm ambivalent about it. Which means it's probably getting close to being done or thrown out.