Last week, I was feeling a little depressed. I had just turned in editorial revisions for THE EIGHTH DAY. The manuscript was off to the copy-editing department, and now I had to face my draft of THE EIGHTH DAY #2. And I couldn’t stand to look at it. The first book in the series had been polished and refined (although there are still the copy-editing and proofing stages to go through), and this sequel was looking pretty shaky by comparison.
But then I was struck by a sense of déjà-vu, and I went digging through my blog archives. What I found was THIS post, published almost exactly one year earlier:
Facing the Ugly – posted 6/22/12
Last week, I worked through the copy-edits on THE CAGED GRAVES and mailed the manuscript back to the publisher. I know there’s still proof-reading to go, but this is one step closer to FINISHED! It was so exciting to see the book worked over to the point where it’s shiny and polished and elegant!
My book looked like this:
But then I had to turn back to my WIP, and it looked like this:
Unformed. Messy. Ugly.
I wanted to hide my face and run away.
It’s hard to remember that THE CAGED GRAVES once looked like that. In fact, it would be easy to convince myself that it NEVER looked like that and this manuscript I’m working on is a colossal failure.
Anybody who’s been around my blog for awhile knows I’m a pantster. And that I hate first drafts. Outlining doesn’t help. My characters refuse to follow orders.
But I love revision. (Even when I moan and whine about them, I love revisions.) Because revisions are what turn the Gangers (Doctor Who, Season 6) into Jean Harlow and Clark Gable.
First drafts are allowed to be ugly and unformed. And sometimes one of the hardest things to do is face the ugly and keep working at it, especially after you’ve spent time hanging out with elegance.
Wow, if I needed any more proof that writing stages recycle themselves, here it is. And now I feel a whole lot better. Because guess what? The messy, ugly, I-can-hardly-stand-to-look-at-it manuscript I was talking about in that post was THE EIGHTH DAY, the one I just sent back to my editor like a proud mother hen. I was calling it GRUNSDAY back then. I thought it was for a YA audience, and I wasn’t sure if I was even going to finish it. Now it’s been revised for MG, and it’s the first book in a series for HarperCollins.
So yes, a lot can happen in a year. Also, I feel more confident that the messy manuscript in front of me will also reach that shiny, glamorous stage – probably right around the time I’m looking at Book 3 with disgust!
Do you find that your writing stages are cyclic?