I’ve been struggling with two manuscripts lately, trying to revise them. Both have been reviewed by mentors I respect, and I’ve gotten some wonderful feedback that requires me to rethink the very premise of my stories. So, I struggle.
As a writer, I can get passionately involved in an idea. I write my first draft from this outpouring of passion and love for a topic. But revision — revision requires something very different. It’s like I have to let infatuation die out, and a maturing process to take over, without losing the deep love I have for the topic. It’s kind of like marriage that way. I have to be willing to really, deeply love and understand my topic and my manuscript.
I spend a lot of time head-butting my topic at this stage — whamming into it headfirst as if I can change my manuscript by force. I am a bully, and the manuscript retreats like any reasonable, caring, self-respectng person would.
Then comes a long process of courting the manuscript again. OK, I say, I can’t make you reveal yourself to me. But maybe, if I am quiet enough, and open enough, often enough, I will hear your voice. But often, I am so upset by this time, so full of self-recrimination — WHY CAN’T I FIX THIS MANUSCRIPT???? — that I just have to give it all up and focus on other things and wait.
I went on a long, long bike ride into Torrey Pines State reserve on Saturday, trying to reconnect with my topics. What does it have to say to me? What is his voice in the world? If I am to speak for another person or object, what would they want me to say?
I am waiting. And part of me knows, at some point, I will hear that voice again and know what to do. I just don’t know YET. Sigh.