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April 2017

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Revision fatigue

There comes a point in the writing of every book where I become sick of the book.

Actually, that's a lie. There's usually more than one such point per book, and they usually come near the end of a round of revisions. Come to think of it, it happened with my short stories, too. That's how I knew I was done: when I could think of nothing else to do to the story, and I had been through every word of it so many times that the words were in danger of stale meaninglessness.

The mystery of writing is that you can bring a project to this point, be convinced the story is done through and through, backwards and forwards and inside out. Then you pick it up two months later and see you have used the same word twice in one sentence. And the marvel is that you read that sentence forty million times without ever noticing!

So revision fatigue doesn't necessarily mean the story is perfect. But it usually means that it's as good as I can make it for now.

Before I understood how deep revision could go, I didn't know about revision fatigue. Nobody warned me. I probably wouldn't have believed them. Writing was a joy, tra la, a magical world in my head--who sez it can be drudgery? Turns out that bringing the magical world onto a page that someone else can stand to read takes effort, and more than one try. More than five tries. More than fifty tries.

The good news is that revision fatigue wears off. Between revisions, it ebbs, until it's possible to face the next round, or the finished version, with fresh eyes and renewed love.


I haven't reached that point yet, but it's good to know that when I do, it won't last. =)
Neither the giddiness nor the blahs are permanent!
Then you pick it up two months later and see you have used the same word twice in one sentence.

This is so true, so frustrating, and so unavoidable. Thank goodness for eagle-eyed editors and beta readers. :)
I'm convinced that gremlins sneak in and mess with my prose.
Yes! I have said many times, "I have nothing more to give." And that's it--at least for the time being.
Every time I turn in a revision, I've wrung everything out of me. I think I can't possibly find anything else to change. It's amazing how editorial notes open new doors in my mind, and I find the energy for another round!
LOL. I revised my manuscript until my brain and eyes bled, and all my critique partners stopped answering my emails. Then I started querying.

A week later, I go to format the first fifty pages for a request and see a huge typo mistake on the second page. I guess bleeding eyes get a bit blind :)
It's those pesky gremlins, messing everything up!
And I've been blaming it on the head monkeys ;)
I haven't reached a point wherein I'm tired of my own story, but when editing someone else--yikes. I just can't look at it one more time.

Although, having set Beyond the Gate down for a couple of years, then coming back at it with an editor, I love it even more than I did back when I thought I finished it. :)
When I critique, I prefer to go through the book only once. I don't like to give multiple rounds of critique; I say everything I can think of about the story in one swoop. I don't know how editors have the patience!
I don't either. ;)
I'm hoping revision fatigue doesn't set in too soon for me, since I'm still mired in the rewriting of SeaNovel and have a way to go yet. The evil gremlins are starting to whisper temptation in my ear, but I'm successfully ignoring them for now!

Good luck with yours.
Luckily, fatigue usually takes a while to come on. Enthusiasm carries one a long way!
Thank you thank you thank you...
By the time I finish a book, I've gone over it so many times that I can practically recite it from memory. :-P The critical question: Am I making it better or am I just making it different? ;-)
wow. thank you for this, jenn. it's so helpful to read these words. i feel like i've been painting the same spot on the wall, rubbing it off, painting it again, ad nauseum. am i improving it? making it worse? i squint at the paint and can't tell its color anymore.
Been there! The way I've described it is, "I don't know anymore if this book is bad or good; I just know it's very familiar."

Good luck!