Writing

My Meltdown While Revising

Madeleine, My Cat and Co-editor of Revision
Madeleine, My Cat and Co-editor of Revision

I’m in the thick of revision now. I’m living inside the world I’ve created in my manuscript. I sit for hours on my comfy, corner chair with the blanket on my lap and Madeleine or “Maddie,” my cat, on my legs while I edit, hitting the delete button and inserting new words and phrases here and there. I mull over logic. Worry about melodrama. Make sure everyone has a motive, or a wound that propels their behavior. I read big chunks of text and realize, with a fallen heart, that they need to fit better into the overall plan of the story. Sometimes those big chunks get highlighted and moved to the Leftovers file. It’s harsh, and sometimes painful, but the result is much better for the story. I go on to other chapters that need my attention.

After doing these sedentary but mind-sucking tasks, I read the rest of the novel. Two-thirds of it is still a mess. I go to my 25 Questions sheet, a handout I received in graduate school, that forces you to answer vital questions to your plot, setting, characters, emotional arc, etc. Some of the answers I gave in October when I was prepping to write the first draft make me wince. Then I put my face in both hands and rub it hard. I have to reset my clock, forgive myself and rewrite with those answers in mind — as best as I can. Will it ever be in presentable shape?

I run my hands through my hair again and again, I take a deep breath. Sometimes two, or many during an entire half-hour. I meditate. I come to terms with the draft being a mess. After several deep breaths, I’m surfacing into logical thought again. I have ideas. Get to work, I think. I open my eyes. I set the computer on my lap. I type, I think, I’ve released it all. I’m on my way.

Karen Hugg is a writer and gardener living in the Seattle area. She is a certified ornamental horticulturalist and Master Pruner. When not digging in the dirt, she writes. She's been published in various journals, anthologies, websites, and more. Her life is happily hectic but she's lucky to have a patient husband and sweet children. Her pets aren't bad either. To learn more, explore http://www.karenhugg.com.

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