Friday, January 17, 2014

Wearing Cement Shoes in the Deep End of the Revision Pool

Heilig Furniture
Raleighwood, 2013
Back in March of 2013 I signed with an agent, the marvelous Caryn Wiseman.  (Hi, Caryn!)  A few weeks later she sent me her Editorial Letter with her Likes and Possible Problem Areas and Dislikes and a week or so later we had a good discussion about her letter.

Now, by Good Discussion, I truly mean it was a danged Good Discussion.  We each had our points that we were willing to fight for and points we were willing to give on.  It was the best, most honest, and most respectful conversation I'd ever had with an agent concerning the future of The Book.  I laughed, I grimaced, and I knew this was an agent I could happily work with.

I left the conversation with a list of changes to be made.  Some were blindingly obvious in their necessity (another agent/author had signed with Hyperion with a book that, from the 1,000 foot view, sounded annoyingly similar to mine -- differentiating changes were, therefore, were clearly needed).  Others were changes that, I begrudgingly acknowledged as being Good for the Story.

Now, you might think that having just signed with an amazingly great agent at a fan-freakin-tastic agency, that I would get right on those revisions and crank them out.  And, I did.  To a point.  Right up until that section where Caryn suggested that I write another chapter.  I'd let my main character off too easy at the end of a particularly difficult chapter.  I didn't trust him enough, she said.  I was going too easy on him.  I needed to make the problem even worse to give him a chance to show the reader -- and himself -- what he is made of.

All of which is completely true.  I had no problem with her insights and understood that the additional chapters would make my main character even more compelling and bring the readers closer to him and, by extension, further into the story.

The only teensy, minute problem, the only tiny bump in the path: my Bad Attitude.

The more I thought having to write Another ^&*@#% Chapter, the more I stuck out my internal lower lip and pouted.  I whined.  I slammed a few doors.  I threw a pile of already-published books onto the floor.  All my childish ego started to focus on was that, once again, I was being thrown into The Deep End of the Revision Pool.

Eventually I was, mentally, on my back, kicking and screaming and punching at the air with my fists having an all-out tantrum.

As well, mentally (then verbally) I began referring to The Book as "The ^%*$#_!(@ Book That Will Never Be Good Enough."  That made my unwavering view of the ceiling seem more justified, more in line with the Great Injustices of the World.

By late October I finally began sketching out the extra chapters -- not chapter, but chapterS.  I knew from early on it was going to have to be at least two chapters, and by the end of the scrawled pre-Draft Zero additional-chapter-two wasn't even close to wrapping up the extra problems I had created for my hero.

By December I had come up with a deadline for myself: Rev 4.7 be completed by the end of January and out to ├četa Readers; comments back by mid-February; Rev 4.8 out to Caryn by the first week of March.

I've taken today off from werk to write Additional Chapter Three.  I'm happy to report it's done and ready to be read as part of the greater book and slashed and revised with my bloody red pens.

It's time to Get Serious about all of this again.

-- Tom