Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I Edit a MILLION Times

I'm beginning to dread the question "How many times did you revise BAD TASTE IN BOYS?" Not that it's a bad question by any means, just that it's so hard for me to answer. I end up arbitrarily picking a number and tossing it out there, which means that depending on when you read my interviews, I'll have edited ten, fifteen, or a million times.

Seriously. When I sit down to write, it goes something like this:

WOO! Time to tackle Chapter 8! I've got my Dr. Pepper, and my comfy sweatshirt, and I even brushed my hair which is an achievement in itself. I've been wanting to write this scene for a while too! *opens document* Oh, but WAIT. I'm not happy at all with the beginning of Chapter 1. It's too slow, and I want her to do the handstand on the table right away, because I like that bit. I'll just tweak it a little...

*a half hour later*

There! Now I can tackle Chapter 8! *writes for about five minutes* Oh, WAIT! I just thought of the perfect sock-related one-liner for Chapter 4! I have to go put that in... and while I'm there, I think that scene could use a little tightening. It feels slow.

*a half hour later*

FINALLY! That's so much better. Now I can tackle Chapter 8! For REALZ.

Only it's never for realz. It takes a major effort of willpower for me to sit down and straight out draft a chapter. Of course, this also means that by the time I'm done, the first half of my manuscript has been edited lord knows how many times, and the last bit is straight out first draft material.

So I guess the answer to that how-many-times-did-you-edit-BTIB question is "I have no freaking idea," but it's not very fun to read, is it?

Anybody else do this?

16 comments:

storyqueen said...

I am of the No-Flipping-Idea camp myself. I mean, there is the first draft, the first major revision, then the editing....but there are so many little tweaks my books go through in between each step.

yeah. A billion.

Shelley

Candice said...

Me!! I have many requests to read old manuscripts from family and I always have to deny them, because even after I finish writing a book I continue to tear it apart.

Candyland said...

I'm. Never. Finished. Editing.
It's a real problem.

Matthew Rush said...

I do everything I can to avoid it, but there's no helping it. I wish there was enough time in the universe for me to fix the end as well as I think I've fixed the beginning.

A. Grey said...

OMG Carrie I do this EXACT thing! I go to work on something and totally get distracted by a hundred other things. Occasionally I'll even end up going to another ms (because I'm working on a sequel or companion) and get distracted tweaking THAT ms before I ever get back to the current one! It tickles me to hear you say that about throwing out random numbers because I've already gotten tired of the question and I'm still trying to get an agent!

My mom is the biggest culprit. Since I'm still on the agent hunt, every time I get rejected or even get a request which then ends in rejection, I go back and obsessively read through my ms, checking on anything which happened to get good/bad feedback (if there was any feedback) and my mom asks me EVERY time 'When will you ever be DONE editing?' and I have to tell her never!

Indigo said...

I fly through first drafts. You described every draft after that perfectly. Right now I'm to the point of having several different versions on back-up in any case.

At some point, I'm going to have to finalize and push my chair back away from the revision desk. (Hugs)Indigo

Girl Friday said...

I do the Exact Same Thing. Very cheered to hear I'm not the only one out there with parts of my WIP on draft 9 and other on draft 1 :)

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

I really try to ignore the inner editor until the first draft is finished. Even if that means I have to start over on the first draft because it didn't go where I wanted it to. It's awesome. Until it isn't because it feels like a lost cause to fix.

Kelly J. said...

This is my problem exactly. Problem or obsession?

I go in and tell myself it's time to revise a chapter but then I reread chapter 1 to get into the mental state of the story then I end up revising THAT and never get to the original chapter.

sigh.

Carrie said...

I do this all the time! It's so frustrating because I really want to start sending the beginning out to people, it's ready! The end...not so much.

Noelle said...

And this would be why I don't think I could be a writer. I'm thinking back to all the English Lit papers I wrote in College, where I waited until the night before, put together a paper, refused to reread it, and turned it in as-is. I usually got an A or B, so I was fine with that. And if you read my blog, you'll see I still don't reread what I've written...at least not for a couple days.

Carrie Harris said...

I am so glad I'm not alone, guys. I think we need to form a support group.

I've been trying to come up with a snappy name, but the WE HAVE NO FREAKING IDEA HOW MANY TIMES WE'VE EDITED SO PLEASE QUIT ASKING US GROUP is maybe a little...long?

writergal24 said...

I tend to do the same thing, but I've decided that every time I take at least a 2 week break from editing - and I take a lot of breaks, which is both good and bad- I will start a "new draft."

Kathy McCullough said...

Thank God I'm not the only one with writer ADD (ADHD?). Weirdly, too much coffee often helps -- but has a bad effect on the rest of the way, so I can only use it in emergencies...

Larissa said...

ME! I mostly straight-draft, but then, it's tweaky-tweak here and tweaky tweak there, and then REDO THIS CHAPTER FROM SCRATCH, and then tweaky-tweak, add scene, tweak tweak tweak. Aaaand repeat.

So what counts as a revision? Uh...

Regina said...

Yes, this has happened to me before. I get so absorbed in the wrong things that I can't always work on the right ones at the right time. I start knit-picking my manuscript apart.