It came back today.
Hugging the Rock. My middle grade verse novel.
It’s time for round 4 of revisions.
I’m petrified. It’s been through copy editing. A wonderful librarian has read it and given my editor some valuable feedback. I have a letter from my editor giving me her ideas on how to accomplish the changes and I have her faith that I will be able do it. She hasn’t changed her mind about publishing it and Tricycle is still handing out teasers of “The First Day” at ALA in San Antonio next weekend. But still I’m worried about messing up the book, the voice, the utter honesty of it all which is what I know draws people into the story in the first place.
It’s time for a lot of positive self-talk if I want to be able to accomplish it in the week I have and not screw up the book in the process. I offer a few favorite quotes on the process of revision and assorted commentary.
“Make no mistake: Writing is an aggressive act because you aren’t leaving well enough alone.” Bonni Goldberg
(Yeah, and I’m one of those people who always picks at a scab because I can’t believe it’s really healed.)
“You must convince yourself that you are working in clay and not marble, on paper and not eternal bronze; let that first sentence be as stupid as it wishes. No one will rush out and print it as it stands. Just put it down; then another.” Jacques Barzun
(Well sure, that would be nice but it’s hard to let down my guard and write a stupid sentence because as soon as you do that, you can be judged.)
“Revision is one of the exquisite pleasures of writing….” Bernard Malamud.
(I actually believe this one but find it easier to believe when I am DONE with revising.)
“The great thing about revision is that it’s your opportunity to fake being brilliant.” Will Shetterly
(Well yes, but about now I’m telling myself that brilliance is in the eyes of the deceiver.)
And a couple on poetry because Hugging the Rock is, after all, a novel in verse. A novel written in verse years ago when the genre was so new that editors feared taking a chance on it because they didn’t think the genre would stick around.
“Good poems are meant to complicate our experience.” J.D. McClatchy
(I’ll say this about poetry, it has complicate my experience while at the same time helping me to understand my experiences.)
“. . .I speak because I am shattered.” Louise Gluck
(Need I really say any more about this? Not everyone writes from a broken place within them but many of us probe the broken places for shards of wisdom. )
I’m gonna be the little engine that could.
I know I’ve written books before, published books before, but this one, this one is different.
Because this time, it’s personal.