Katia Raina

The Magic Mirror

Revising . . .

When I was going through one of my many-many Castle of Concrete drafts, a little writing book by Heather Sellers called “Chapter After Chapter” helped me make it through when I was starting to doubt if I would ever get there – and by “there” I mean “anywhere.” I love Heather’s view of revision as not the process of “straightening,” but of “making a mess.” I think she is exactly right when she says, “every time I work on a piece I make some parts better and some parts worse.”

That’s the way it feels now, with my mad mad revising. It gets more intense with each draft, maybe because I am getting closer? I used to pray and wish for a “fairy-God-editor” to fall in love with my book and help me make it shine the way I dream it would. Now I know, I am my own fairy-godeditor. Even with a smart sharp-eyed writing friend who wants me to succeed, and so many others who have believed in me over these years, even with a brilliant and dedicated agent by my side, now I understand what E.B. White meant when he said “the main duty of a writer is to please and satisfy himself.” (My italics!)

It’s frustrating. It’s addictive. Getting a scene “right” feels like reaching the top of a high mountain, but then you have to take care not to trip and fall on your way down. When I am through with this revision, will my character come through even clearer, will the place reveal more of its depth, will history make more sense to both those who know nothing, and to those who know a lot?  

Most of all, upon finishing with my revision, will I get that aah feeling? I definitely had it the last time I completed a revision. Will I feel it even stronger this time? That deep satisfaction, tinged with electrical nervousness? That exhilarating and scary sense that maybe this it? That maybe I’ve done it now?


(** Like “Amen” excpet it’s pronounced, “oh-main.” This is the Jewish way to conclude a prayer :))


April 4, 2010 - Posted by | Writing Mirror | ,

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