The Neverending Story

You know the novel I’ve been writing for as long as I’ve been writing this blog?  The one with forty-four (44) chapters?  The one I’m revising for my agent?  I am just beginning chapter 11.

God.

I have a deadline:  October 7.  Wish me luck.  And know that I am never, ever, ever going to revise this book again.  Well, that’s not true.  If someone buys it,  you’d better believe I’ll revise it again for them.

I don’t know if this much effort goes into every book you pick up at a bookstore or if I am just a slow, sucky writer.  But this is one big thing I’ve learned about writing a book:   that effortless sentence, that flowing paragraph, that interesting, quick aside?  If it’s in my book, you can be certain it took me a really long time to get right.

I suppose that’s one of the great pleasures of your first book, though.  I mean, if you get lucky and someone wants the next one, usually they want it faster than forever.   But I’m hoping with the second one I won’t need forever to get it right.

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16 thoughts on “The Neverending Story

  1. Revision is the dark underbelly of those inspired bursts of creativity. Godspeed, Lily! Keep your eye on the prize. And 44 is a magical number, as I’m sure you know.

  2. I’d hope that the amount of technical skill you developed slaving away over perfecting novel #1 would at least allow you to start a couple revolutions higher up the spiral of development, so to speak. Though I wonder if your publishes/agents expectations progress on a similar way.

    Your agent must have a lot of faith in your book though, to chase you this hard. Which can only be a good thing.

  3. I must find the quote properly, but some insightful author wrote that revising was like ‘scrubbing a large mosaic floor with a toothbrush’. I think that says it all! Poor Lily and yet Brave Lily. I have every faith in you and in this book. It’s going to be completely and utterly marvellous.(And from the accounts of authors I know, yes, alas, pretty much every book goes through multiple drafts, gets messed with by multiple industry professionals and becomes eventually the bane of the writer’s life. Here’s George Orwell for you: ‘Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.’)

  4. Hang in there and good luck with it. I know how frustrating it can be. I’ve also hoped and expected the next book to be easier and for me it wasn’t–but I think it would have been if I wasn’t so anxious about it and took the process as it came. The worry about time and outcome was what made it suck whenever I thought I was done and instead had to revise. So for the next book, I’m going to see if I can ride with the process and regard each moment as part of “this stage” without defining it. I’ll let you know how it goes. 😉

  5. Lily, please hang in there and keep slugging your way through this revision. I haven’t been there myself, so I can only imagine how hard this is, especially if its like scrubbing a mosaic floor with a toothbrush. If its any comfort, you have readers who are eager to read your masterpiece, even more so now that we know the work that you have put into it. Be strong, keep on keeping on!

  6. I too am in the middle of revising a book, trying to remember to trust my editor’s judgment, shaking a fist at heaven every time something at work or at home takes another night of work on my book away from me (last night it was a broken belt on the washing machine), but also being kind of happy that life gives me excuses not to face the hard work of making my book better.

    I wish you the best of luck and more than a little bit of grace.

    Warmly.

    Ben

  7. Hi there. You know, I think about this kind of thing all the time. The timing factor. I keep hoping that the more books we have under out belts, the more streamlined our process becomes…So, far…for me…I don’t know though…I won’t say “good luck” because you’ll get your revisions done, but I will say “have fun.” Exciting!

  8. Good luck! I don’t think you really need it, though. As I slog away at my own novel (which is feeling completely neglected since I started my new job, barely having got me to add a paragraph or two to it), I’m still agog that you manage to hold down a job, raise three sons, and write novels. It takes much more than luck to do that. I wouldn’t mind if you’d wrap a little of what it does take up in a box and send it to me for Xmas this year.

  9. Writing to the poet Paul Engle, Flannery O’Connor reflected on her experience with Selby and Rinehart:

    “To develop at all as a writer I have to develop in my own way… I will not be hurried or directed by Rinehart… Now I am sure that no one will understand my need to work this novel out in my own way better than you; although you may feel that I should work faster. Believe me, I work ALL the time, but I cannot work fast. No one can convince me I shouldn’t re-write as much as I do.”

    Here’s to meeting deadlines and maintaining the integrity of your own creative process!

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