I was excited when my notes arrived. I’ve always preferred the revising/re-drafting stage to the first draft stage – there’s something about chopping a story into pieces and putting it back together that’s utterly satisfying. And I was awed by my editor’s insight. Her ideas about how to make the book better, bigger, are incredible.
But I have to admit, I was apprehensive too. Although my agent and I have always worked on revisions together, this was editing on a whole ‘nother level. And for the first time ever, I was on a proper deadline. Would I actually be able to do this?
Thankfully, now I’m a few weeks away from seeing sunlight again, I’ve realised that what seemed like a frighteningly huge task back in November wasn’t so huge (or frightening) after-all. This is in large part thanks to my Revisions Cave Survival Kit, which I've assembled along the way.
Here’s what’s inside:
These are essential for note-making, highlighting sections of the manuscript according to what needs doing to them, and also because, well, any excuse to buy stationery is a good one, right?
I have to have music on when I write. It helps get me shut myself off from the distractions of the outside world. And yes, I am one of those authors who makes playlists for their WIPs - I’ll post ACID’s here soon!
When I was a kid, I used to wonder what on earth my parents were talking about when they said they could ‘feel coffee working’. Now I know. Until I’ve had my first cup of the day, getting the words out feels like pushing porridge through muslin. Afterwards, it can still feel like that… but that’s usually fixed by making a second cup. Or a third. Or…
Although I’m a fast reader, I’ve not had as much time to read while I’ve been in the Revisions Cave. As a result, my TBR pile is reaching dangerously wobbly proportions. However, I'm still trying to fit it in where I can. Reading other people’s books reminds me of my own passion for writing when I’m having a difficult day, and helps me relax afterwards.
|My actual TBR pile|
I always get cold feet when I’m sitting down for any period of time, which makes it hard to concentrate, so these are a must. Also: a hot water bottle.
There’s nothing quite like a Hound walk when the words are going slow, or I’m stuck on a particular plot point. Or any other activity that’s not related to writing. Not thinking about my book is often the best way to solve something I’m stuck on. I usually find that once I’ve stopped stressing about an idea and trying to force it to appear, my subconscious mind, which has been working furiously behind the scenes the whole time, taps me on the shoulder and hands me the answer.
I’d love to be one of those writers who can pull an all-nighter working on their book and be able to feel vaguely human the following day. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those writers. I can work late into the night if I have to, but usually spend the next twenty-four hours with my brain feeling like an overstretched elastic band. So I try not to do it. Much.
This has been the biggest help of all. Hearing about other authors’ experiences of being in the Revisions Cave has made me realise I’m not alone; that just because my editor’s picked up on things I know I should have seen for myself doesn’t mean my book’s awful, and that everyone else has porridge-through-muslin days too. Whether it’s chatting on Twitter, talking to my fellow 2013 debut-ers over at The Lucky 13s or reading the many other excellent author blogs that are out there about the process (just google 'Revisions Cave' and you'll see what I mean), I’ve come to realise that this is a great place to be.
So, do you have Revisions Cave survival kit? What’s in there?