I feel stagnant. This whole revision thing. Geez. Is it normal to feel like it’s not going anywhere? Like I’ve rewritten some parts so many times I don’t think I will ever ever finish?
What about the fear that the book is going to be twice as LONG when you’re done, even though you set out to cut copious quantities and make it SHORTER?
What about the fear that you will cut so much away you will have only a thin, anemic volume left at the end?
What about the fear that this will take ten years and maybe never ever be done?
Should I feel like I’m making progress? How do you measure progress during revisions anyway?
I can’t seem to find any good writing on this topic. Everything seems geared to the author who doesn’t know their book needs revising.
I know. Oh, I know. Believe me I KNOW. I can see that it needs revising.
What I don’t know is which bit to do next. Whether to plow forward and get deeper into the plot, or to go backward and rewrite earlier chapters so that the later chapters will make sense, or whether to go ahead and write the later chapters knowing that I will go back and change the earlier chapters later. When to go forward, when to step back. How to avoid getting so bogged down that the novel never gets done.
Whether to continue soliciting feedback from my family or to stop letting them read. This is a toughie. The feedback from Carey has undeniably made my early chapters much much tighter and better, and set them up for better flow later. The plot is better, the characters are better. But after every round of feedback, it’s hard to get started again. There is so much to do. Am I better off blarfing out a full set of revisions and then reincorporating feedback all at once later? Or incorporating it a section at a time, crafting it as I go?
Who knows. Nobody. This goes back to how lonely this whole writing this is. Nobody can tell me what to do next. I mean, guidelines, and rules of thumb, and basic principles, and all that. Yeah, I get that. But nobody can tell me: Work on this chapter now. Fix these problems next. Write that new scene right now.
K, novelist friends. Is this normal? Or a sign that I may as well throw up my hands and quit. (Just kidding. I’m not quitting. Not even if you say so.)