Revising your writing is a big part of the writing process, and frankly, it requires courage. Courage to not judge your writing each time you run into a stumbling block.
When I wrote my first novel, I did what most do: scour the internet for every relevant article on how to write and revise. There are lists of words to avoid. Anything with an ‘ly’ at the end is anathema. Revision should take at least as long as the writing did. “Polish, polish, polish,” said the blurbs.
I searched for the demonic adverbs and removed every single one. After three days of hair pulling, I finally figured out the word ‘was.’
I listened to the advice and abandoned my voice in an attempt to master the shoulds, revising that novel so many times that I disappeared. So did the uniqueness of my characters and the rhythm of my words.
Eventually, I repaired most of the damage and put it out in the world.
The revision of Pipe Dreams taught me a ton. I did improve my craft, but I also learned the importance of being true to my passion for the work. Never again will I abandon a word because someone says I must.
Now, I revise differently. I never edit or rework until I have a completed first draft. Whatever comes out on the page is perfect until the manuscript is done.
Once finished, I read it aloud. Any sentence that trips me up is toast. I want my manuscripts to be precise, clear, and heartfelt. That means I have to clear the clutter and let go of what I loved. That clever paragraph, effusive description, or charming cluster of words is on the chopping block if it inhibits the flow.
Flow is everything at first.
Next comes clarity. I know exactly what I meant to say, but I don’t know if anyone else will understand my intent. I give the manuscript to my husband and let him have a go at it. He’s brutally honest. I’ve learned not to get defensive (or too defensive anyway) when he tears apart a segment I thought was done.
Finally, when we both think it’s good, I unleash the manuscript on a few, diverse, friends. They catch mistakes I missed, let me know when they’re confused, and usually give me the compliments I need to make one more run through the book.
Then, after I’ve taken their comments to heart and revised it once again, the editor will have her say. That, too, is good. Writing is a solitary act. Revision takes a neighborhood.
About the Author:
Destiny Allison was a professional and award-winning sculptor. Her work is collected by individuals, civic entities, and corporations worldwide. When an injury required her to re-envision her life, Allison did what she always does. She applied her explosive creativity and dog-with-a-bone tenacity to new endeavors.
In 2011 she was named Santa Fe Business Woman of the Year. Her community building efforts and innovative business model transformed a bankrupt shopping center into a thriving community and commercial center.
In 2012 she published her first book, Shaping Destiny: A quest for meaning in art and life. The book won best independent non-fiction/memoir in the 2013 Global Book Awards.
Since then, she has published two novels and opened a general store.
Allison believes that one’s life is one’s greatest work of art. Hence, she flows freely between mediums. Unafraid to make mistakes and always passionate, she lives in Santa Fe, NM.
More info at: www.destinyallisonbooks.
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