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Revising and Editing. Also Known as “Are We There Yet?”

I mentioned to a friend that my novel could be facing more “gutting” ahead, my word for revising and editing.

He wrote back, “It sounds astonishing that after three revisions you could still get it gutted and have an enormous pile of work to do again. Are you feeling positive about it?”

Here’s how I responded: Think of it like a house you just bought. You love the house. It has a sturdy foundation. And you know there’s so much potential with it. But as you move in and decide how to move forward with it, you might decide, “Hmm. If we knock out a wall here, that will make for much easier access between the kitchen and living room.” Or “I really hate this carpet, but if we rip it up and put in white oak pine floors, that will really make a difference.” And so forth.

That’s where I feel I’m at right now. Moving forward, I’ll be focusing on that “interior” stuff—knocking down walls, trying different paint colors, rethinking layouts, and so forth.

And three drafts is nothing (at least, for some writers). Of course, there are also writers like Lee Child who write only one draft.

Luckily, I’m one of those writers who loves revising. I’m not sure I’ve always been like this. But as challenging as some of these revisions have been (a year ago was tough), I’ve loved watching this book shape up and get closer and closer to where it should be. These last two revisions went really fast, which tells me I’m on the right track.