I have a draft. It has more or less the right number of words; it has a beginning, a middle, and an ending. I'd have done something by way of a celebration a few days ago had my body not decided, when I typed "THE END," that it was time to give way to the cold I hadn't even realized I was fighting off.
So I slept as much as possible for a couple of days, and now I'm about to sit down and start revising.
I love revising.
I hate revising.
My love for the draft phase of writing a book is fairly straightforward and unadulterated. You know where you are with a draft, because the only thing that really matters is making quota. The words could be crap, but as long as there are enough of them, it's okay. They don't have to be good--not yet. They just have to be there.
The words I've got probably aren't total crap, because one of the things I do to get myself in the zone for turning out each day's quota is to reread parts of what I've already written. And if there's a writer out there who can reread part of a draft without revising and polishing . . . well, they're not me.
Another thing that's really comfortable about draft phase is that when I'm in it, I'm usually working with an outline. A synopsis. A plan. I know who done it, and how, and I know who the red herrings are, and I usually know exactly how Meg is going to crack the case and, more often than not, where and how her final confrontation with the villain will take place. If something in the outline doesn't work, or if I think of something better than what I had in the outline, I can adjust. I have my writing GPS aimed at the finale, and if I find I need to veer off course, I can hear the little voice saying, "recalculating route" as I forge ahead.
Yeah. I like drafting. But revising is tough.
It's tough because now is the time to take a cold, hard look at what's there. Figure out what needs fixing and fix it. And that's very hard. Because--it's a book! It's a whole book! And I wrote it!
I think I'm reasonably good at revising. I actually teach a class in it from time to time. People tell me they find my class really useful. I find that reassuring. Because the class is mainly a collection of tricks and techniques I've accumulated over the years for turning "it's a whole book!" into "Well, yes, but it still needs work."
But the downside of revising is that you never really know how much you need to do and when to call it quits. Although come to think of it, one of those is off the table for me. I know how exactly when I will call it quits--the day I have to turn it over to my editor. But do I have a minor tidying ahead of me, or major literary surgery?
At least I have the tools I need. All the tricks and techniques I recommend to others. Time to trot out that list and start using them.
And there's also the fact that I've done this before, more than two dozen times. That doesn't necessarily make the work easier, nor does it make the uncertainty easier to bear in the moment. But it does give me a certain bedrock of confidence. Yeah, I can do this.
I'd go on, but . . . I have a book to revise.