At the moment, I’m poking my revisions as one would a sleeping bear. Which is to say: not at all. At best, I am dancing around the shadows. Fiddling with a sentence hither and thither. I’ve needed a break from the book, but I’m nearing the end of that mental vacation. The time has come to wake the bear.
There are multiple ways to go about revisiting a book (or waking a bear). I’ve gone about approaching it like a high tea party:
1. Set the table. Who’s invited? Are you focusing on some characters at a time or are you plowing straight through?
2. Pick the tea. Sometimes I think it’s helpful to focus on an emotion per revision. What is it that you’re trying to tease or distill from this draft? Is it bitter and aromatic, a tale of love won and lost? Is it bright and colorful, an injection of joy into an otherwise lifeless draft?
3. Mind your language. Art mirrors life. Sometimes we put our foot in our mouth and sit there wondering how to splice away those burning minutes and replace it with something better. Sometimes our characters act with impunity, razing our plot and draining the dialogue like an unwelcome house guest who keeps helping himself/herself to wine.
If only life mirrored art…in real life, we have no choice but to scurry these private humiliations by simmering in silence and hoping we’ve learned OR apologizing and putting it from our thoughts. Neither is wrong nor right (I think it depends). Thankfully, our characters are not nearly as fallible as us. Therefore, we have no excuse for their mishaps. If they are going to mess up, make sure it was their choice as opposed to the result of circumstance from a tunnel-visioned creator. By that I mean, be deliberate. Be thoughtful.