Friday, July 9, 2010

Breathing New Life Into an Old Friend . . . uh, Manuscript

I have a love-hate relationship with revision.  The idea of tearing down something to build it back up even better, even stronger, thrills me.  It also terrifies me.  What if I rip it apart and instead of making it better, I kill it?  I've done it before.  I've sucked the heart and life out of many a story, out of many a manuscript.  How?  Why?

I'm not really sure.  It doesn't happen all the time, every time.  Sometimes I think I put too much pressure on myself to make it "perfect."  Sometimes I take every writing rule I've ever heard about, read about, or was taught and throw them at my poor pages until my story starts to look like a cowering animal in a cage.

But lately, the revision process hasn't felt so daunting.  I've pulled out a manuscript I had recently put away because the revision process had wrung me out.  I read the original over again.  Know what?  I liked it.  I really did.  Sure, there are holes in the plot as big as a house-swallowing-sinkhole.  Sure, there are overwritten passages, characters whose hair and eye color change within a chapter, and whole scenes that feel plopped in from another planet.  Know what?  I still like it.

I can feel the heart of it, beating beating beating.  I can hear the voices of the characters as they talk to each other, as they talk to me.  I'm taking the revision process more slowly, more carefully than I ever have before.  I can save this one.  I have to.  I will.