Or should I say the hell of revision. I recently decided that after my fourth draft of my current manuscript I'd be better off giving myself a deadline. This would be my last revision.
That's it. Done. I've been at this for so long I can't see straight anymore. But I realized I was going about the revision process the wrong way. I wasn't letting go.
I've cut, cut, cut: adverbs, passive words, dialogue tags, narration, exposition. Cut, cut, cut. But I wasn't making any real changes to my manuscript because I wasn't looking at it with a different set of eyes. I wasn't looking at it as something new. A different version. It was the same manuscript with, hopefully, better sequence of events, dialogue, description etc., but it was the same version. I hadn't made any real changes. I hadn't learned the truth of what I was writing.
I've written before that if anyone asked me what the heck my book was about I'd have a hard time answering. I reasoned that it's because there's a lot going on in my manuscript. I have the main conflict and minor conflicts. I have a variety of characters and viewpoints. That's why it wasn't easy for me to answer that question. But the truth of the matter is, I didn't take out my chisel and hammer to mold the truth of my story. After four revisions nothing had really changed. I was scared and in love and didn't want to make any drastic changes. But that question lingered and I knew in my heart that something was out of whack.
So what does revision mean?
It means learning your strengths and weakness as a writer. What scenes stand out and are well written? Which ones seem to lose flavor? The revision process is an opportunity to look at your manuscript with a new set of eyes and realize the possibilities that can make your draft better. There is always a risk of making some scenes worse, but there is also possibilities of making it better. In order to do that we have to let go of the original version. Be free to experiment and you may find a very satisfying accident.
Suggested read: Chapter after Chapter by Heather Sellers.