After a month of hard labor, I’m coming into the home stretch with these revisions… hooray!
Revising under deadline is always a fraught process, I find. I’m lucky because my editor wrote me a wonderful letter and lots of notes, which built on what I’d already done and opened up new possibilities. Yet it’s easy for me to doubt myself at every stage of writing, and revision is no exception.
Revising under deadline only ratchets up the anxiety. Do I change this character’s name? Do I put the new scene here or here? Do I jettison a good scene in hope of a great one?
The annotated manuscript
When doubt freezes me up, I remember a story I heard from Frank Cottrell Boyce at the SCBWI-UK conference last November. Apparently, if you look at Mary Norton’s drafts for The Borrowers you’ll see that she made some brilliant late-stage changes, including elements that now strike us as essential, such as the title and the character’s “borrowed” names. The Borrowers only became a classic, in short, because Norton was fearless in revising to the last.
“Fearless” is not exactly my middle name. Yet I’m finding that courage is a good companion as I revise. I’ve pushed myself to dive deep; I’ve had to trust my instincts. But I think Chantress will be a better book because of it.