Revision Insights From My Novel
What round of revisions am I currently in on my romance novel? I’ve almost lost track. Let’s see, let me trace it back. I completed my first draft over the summer which was a magical and fulfilling process for me. It was very liberating after feeling restricted by the screenwriting process.
I sent that approximately 72K word draft to an editor I found on the good ol’ interwebs. She returned it to me approximately two weeks later with feedback that was honest and insightful but disappointing for this amateur author’s heart. I honestly believed I was going to get a big, lovely stamp of approval and I would move relatively quickly through the self-publishing process. It was humbling because I couldn’t argue with her critique.
So, I pulled up my big girl pants and went to work on the revision which took me about a month to complete. This time, I thought, this time I’ve mastered this thing! She’ll fly through it, return it quickly and now I’ll be ready to launch. You guessed it, that’s not what happened. She returned it with acknowledgements of my progress but an urging to continue on.
For whatever reason, this round was the hardest for me. I felt super defensive and I took her comments personally. Both of those reactions are things I learned in creative process 101. For all my experiences in acting and writing, I know that hunkering down in defense mode keeps me from the essential skill of listening. It also blocks me from facing the reality of how others perceive my work. In addition, I know that taking things personally is a quick trip to self-pityville.
My initial reaction was to dig in my heels and try to bring people to my “side.” By people, I mean my husband and I recruited him hard. “Read this,” I urged, “ And tell me what you think. I just need a neutral opinion.” Talk about setting him up for a disaster. He read the section I provided and I could tell he was desperately trying to tell me what I wanted to hear.
It took an overnight--so grateful it wasn’t longer--before I had my personal “Come to Jesus” moment. The questions I asked myself: am I really about to tank this process? Do I really believe she’s on some personal vendetta with my work (hello, paranoid crazy person)? Am I resilient enough to pick myself up to do the work? Is she right? Can I get over myself to hear the truth in her critique?
The personal release that occured when I decided to dig in and do the work was amazing. I got back in and opened my mind. I had been wrong. I thought the love story I’d written said one thing but it really hadn’t and I was willing to make it better.
After this round we had a Skype call and discussed how many rounds were left and I was so grateful to feel myself release the need to control that. We left it open depending on what she read. When I turned in that draft I felt really good about the changes I’d made. The story felt much more loving and much more like the romance I meant to convey all along. And finally, I’d released the need to hear that I was finished versus needing another round.
I got that revision back and guess what? Another round was suggested. So, this is where I am now, in my final round before proofreading. I call it the final round because I’m finally at a place where I can see how I could work on this forever and I’m unwilling to do that. Also, I really want to finish this project and see it through to the end and I have the confidence to make that call.
I am not perfect. My work will never be perfect but it’s pretty darn good. It’s good enough and even though I might have imagined that I would flinch over the ‘enough’ attached to that, I now see it totally differently. I really have worked hard on this project and after this, it will be time to move on but I sure am proud of how I was willing to work my butt off to get here!
Sidenotes but related:
My pseudonym is Natalia Albrite (nataliaalbrite.com does exist)
My tagline is “Clear-eyed romances” (a subtle nod to my love of Friday Night Lights)
The title of my first romance novel is “That Guy and That Girl” which I don’t love but it was time to make a decision
I have cover art that I love and I will release it soon
My launch will hopefully be sometime in March