Monday, October 25, 2010

Revision Reaction

Reaction isn't the right word for what's buzzing in my brain right now, but I wanted an alliterative title... I need Jessica's help.

What's the R word for "revision performance anxiety"? Or "complete and total revision panic attack"?

For those of you completely lost, ten days ago I got a "revise and resubmit" request from my personal top-pick agency. Like the only agency I ever wanted to query from Day 1 last year when I decided to pursue this novelist thing seriously.

But you don't just query one agency. That's crazy, right?

Still, every writer who's ever played a role in my life as a reader (or a writer) is handled by these guys, and working with them would be like... I don't know. Like the seal of approval as a novelist. Or something.

So it happened. They're giving me a shot. And ten days later, I still haven't started revising.

Oh, yes. I've made lots of notes. I've discussed it ad nauseum with crit partners and local betas and JRM. I've told them my ideas for approaching the requested changes and everyone's given helpful suggestions and been so super-supportive. ((big hugs))

And yet I sit here staring at the compuer screen. My throat's tight and it's possible my stomach has completely closed up. I can't seem to open the document...

What's the problem, right? I've worked as an editor for more than a decade. It's really not that big of a deal. Hello? Mountain? Molehill? Just do it already.

Well, I'll tell ya (as I told another crit partner who's vying for sainthood)... I'm not really sure where to begin. I mean, I've never revised a book before.

All my revisions have been on short, feature-length news stories. And that's just a matter of beefing up the lede and other things I won't bore you with here. The gist: it's pretty straightforward (and quick) work.

In this case I've been given some guidance but nothing terribly, terribly specific. And I feel very, very overwhelmed. Like throw-the-whole-thing-out-and-just-start-all-over overwhelmed.

... and well... There's this other thing...

I've been afraid to say it out loud in case somebody hears me. Come close and I'll whisper it... shh...

What if I do all this work, make all these changes, think I've got it perfect and then they come back and say, "Right. Well, nice try, thanks--Pass."



Then what?

All that time, the energy, the neglect of family/friends/house/appearance/fitness... And in the end, They passed.

In my mind, the idea of that happening is, well, it's me under the desk for a month. At the very least.


Okay, now that I've reread all that, I look at it and think, "Who is this person? God, what a ninny! Just shut the whining and do it already."

You never know unless you try, right? And so what? What if they do say "no thanks" after all that and pass? Nothing ventured, man. It's not about the agency, it's about my ability to tell a compelling story that people want to read. These guys don't represent King or Grisham or Rowling and they all seemed to manage just fine.


And as my finger hovers over the "delete" key, I pause...

I know part of our blogging writers' community here is sharing this kind of stuff. So I hesitate to wipe out this pathetic mess of a post in favor of giving you something cheery and upbeat that will make you giggle.

Anybody else out there felt this way? Or feeling this way? Or got some advice for the ninny taking up space in my head?

Til Thursday... I'm opening the document now, dangit.

And if you need a giggle, here. I give you... well, I was going to give you some pining for the fjords. Instead I give you the Queen Victoria Handicap. Love~ <3


Unknown said...

Just breathe! It doesn't hurt to sit on your notes for a few days. You can do it!

Natasha said...

I think there was something in the air on the day when we were born, because you are reacting just like I am/ would. The people who read my WiP suggested changes, and I reacted by deciding to chuck the whole thing and start afresh- not the most sensible thing to do, I know, and I am glad I don't have enough time to have started on it yet.
I am glad nobody has yet asked me to revise and resubmit, because I would think exactly what you are.

Keep the faith, that is all I can say.

Ex-pat Odessa said...

You'll be fine - HELLO! They asked for changes! So obviously they think you've got what it takes.

Dig your heels in and go for it!
Put on the Kinks, Velvet Underground, Bowie, Iggy, Joan Jett, heck whatever it is that gets you in the "groove" and bang it out!

Jessica Bell said...

LOL. Oh dear. Um, ok, firstly, how about 'Revision Retardation'? :o)

Secondly, if you need some advice that my mentor gave me to revise my first novel. Email me and I'll email you what she told me :o)

Cruella Collett said...

I know EXACTLY how you feel. It's how I feel of a daily basis with my thesis. On the spot.

But what I'm gradually accepting is that even though I'm incorporating someone else's suggestions, it's still ME doing the editing. Which means I can still make sure to do the changes according to how I feel they should be done, and that means I am spending me-time on my project, which IS worthwhile. (Or at least this is what I try to tell myself - I'm not necessarily so good as actually doing it...) Hang in there and do your revisions, and try to remember that you're not doing it for them, but for you. And if it lands you a deal with them, that's an added bonus :)

Good luck!

Stina said...

I always feel this way after getting a very thorough crit (much like a revision request). After I go through the initial panic of "I can't do this!", ideas start to come to me (usually while I'm running). I tackle the easy stuff first, to give myself confidence. Before I know it, I'm throwing myself into the revisions full force--and loving it.

S.A. Larsenッ said...

'K sweets, first things first. ((cyber hug))

Now that that's over...breath, eat some chocolate--unless you're allergic, then don't--and relax. Rushing and stressing is only going to clog the pathway that got you to this point. YOU can do this.

DEZMOND said...

maybe you should give it to one of your first readers to tell you what you should edit ... what were the weak points ....

Unknown said...

We all feel like that, the fear of rejection, but we continue anyway. The little I can offer...
I imagine a reader for my book and then read it out loud to them. It's amazing the positive effect this has when I do this, see how it flows. Anyway, I wish you success!!

Scarlett said...

Dear friend, I'm so proud for you! Look how far you have come! Take a few moments to reflect on what first made you want to put it all out there. You have a gift as a writer and now others (other than your local readers) also see that talent. Put aside some time for prayer, you didn't get to this point on your own, have a nice glass of wine and then put your big girl panties back on and go for it!! We're all behind you! And I'm praying for you!

LTM said...

You guys are so awesome. :o) <3

I know you're all right and it's true. Just breath, stop thinking about it in terms of what could happen or how big it is and just break it down and do it.

@Anne & Odie: yes. I know. I know you guys are right~

@Rayna--no joke. Writing a whole new book seems easier from where I'm sitting right now... :D

@Jessica--email sent!

@CC: it's true. This is making it better/stronger, and ultimately that's a good thing.

@Dez: Done! :o)

@Carole--that's a great idea.

@Stina--I hope you're right about the loving it part. It's raining here or my feet would be SO in the street~ ;p

@Sher--ugh. Thanks! :o)

@Scarlett: you know it, girl. I'm trying to remember when I've ever prayed this much... LOL! :D

PK HREZO said...

Sounds like you're dwelling too much on what everyone will think when you should be getting back inside your story.
Best just to start reading your story again... like you're reading it for the first time. Don't put so much pressure on yourself. Just read, and you'll be editing away in no time. Think about it... you wrote an entire novel... that, my friend, is HUGE! Feel proud. Imagine yourself reading for your fans and read it aloud. Don't worry about trying to please anyone... just read your story and imagine the listeners hanging on every word. As you do that, you'll naturally find ways to make it better.

You're gonna do awesome!!!

Holly Hill said...

You know what, even if they pass you'll still have gained something -- an even stronger MS that someone else will scoop right up.

You can do it! Seriously. Now go. Go revise!

Carolyn Abiad said...

I feels like you tied up all the ends with a pretty, shiny bow and opening it up again is going to pull you under. But like Holly said, in the end the whole MS will be better and someone will be very happy with the spiffier, shinier bow. (Psst...Starting is the hardest part, after that it's not so bad. You can do it!)

Unknown said...

Wow, that's a difficult place to be. I've not been there but I know it must be hard. I can tell you this, I can not tell you how many times I've doubted my decisions.


Karen Jones Gowen said...

First let me say, Congratulations on getting this prime opportunity. And then, Oh wow I feel your pain. It's so tough when you want something this bad and so much is at stake. Then again, the worst thing a writer can do for her career is to be paralyzed by fear. So just go for it, and let yourself fly!

RaShelle Workman said...

Leigh - Love you!!! I always ask myself, "What's the worst that can happen?" And you've already faced it - your biggest fear. They'll take the revisions and pass. IF that happens, those are their reasons, not yours. Your book is still good enough to rise out of the slush. Your manuscript WILL get picked up and it WILL get sold. It's just a matter of WHO will represent you and which publishing house will BUY. You aren't going to know those answers until you revise. YOU CAN DO IT. I'M HERE FOR YOU.
ps: will you give me this exact pep talk when necessary. LOL

Lydia Kang said...

I think "revision performance anxiety" is real thing! I do. I've got it.
In any case, do your very best and don't rush it! That's my advice.

Angie said...

Thanks for the giggle. Okay, take a deep breath. Do this for you and not for them. Make it the best story you can, and leave the rest in God's hands. Good luck!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Oh man. Totally been there (well not exactly the same, but similar) facing a mountain of revisions without any faith. And having faith is important. You can do this - you did it the first time, right? (meaning, you already wrote the darn thing; you can certainly do it better on revision)

Go get it! (and good luck) :)

Mason Canyon said...

Take a deep breath and jump in. If they were going to pass, they would have on the first round. You can do it.

Thoughts in Progress

Vicki Rocho said...

How about Revision Revulsion? Has a nice kicky ring to it, don't you think?

You can do this. You are a professional! Besides, if you take it once scene at a time, it won't seem so daunting.

Can't wait to see your book on the shelf so get crackin' already woman!

LTM said...

many of you I've emailed back, but again Big, big THANKS and you all are my superheroes...
@PK, couldn't email you, but that's just what I'm planning to do---make a hard copy, block off a day and just read/make notes. I actually copied one of your revision posts--those were v.v. good~

@Lydia--it's good advice, and a medical opinion, yes? ;p thanks! :o) <3

Thanks, guys~ <3

Talli Roland said...

Oh, I hear you. Revising is so hard, and you don't always know if what you're doing is right. But follow your gut, do what you think works for your novel, and know we're all crossing our fingers for you!

Ella said...

You have the seal waiting for you!
One paragraph at a time is where you begin! You can do this; it is the idea of waiting a life time for this
and what if I mess it up! We all risk this in the great highway of life, but you will proceed cautiously
and face the detours! YOU can do this! xXX 555

Hart Johnson said...

I'm sending hugs, Leigh. I know you and I have talked about this a lot, but I really hope you find your starting place--it's like chipping pain--you just need to find a piece that 'gives' and then it's easy for a while (scrape off ALL the stuff that is easy) then you see what is left that needs more work. Doing the easy stuff first makes you feel like you're making progress and then the bigger pieces one at a time.

I don't get too overwhelmed anymore, but as Mari mentioned... the THESIS... that was my first biggie, and I felt EXACTLY like you do... like "I did this. And they liked it. Why then do they want all this?" My day job helps too-I have 15 years of getting feedback that I have to respond to. I promise it gets easier once you have a few successes.

LTM said...

@Talli--the whole "is this right" is a big part of it, but I think I've found something... THANKS, girl! <3

@Ella--THANKS!!! ((hugs)) <3

@TH--I think I've found it... Right in the middle, but it's working! Woo... excited now~ :o) <3

Unknown said...

I hope you start feeling better... you sound stressed!!! Lots of hugs!

I've just started revising (thinking about it) and i'm already nervous!

Julie Musil said...

OMG that's awesome! I agree 100% with RaShelle. You've risen from the slush! They like your work! Focus on the positive while you're making your amazing changes. Then let it cool for a bit, then re-read. YOU CAN DO THIS!

*happy dance*

BLOOMING PARIS/ Jenn said...

LTM, what a beautiful site! ;) I think "revision performance anxiety" is real thing too! I've got it though I have not heard that term before. It resonates with me. Thank you for the funny video too!
I think even by you sharing this post you were facing fears, so I know that you can do it! I can sense you are right there, just keep believing in you! hugs, Jenn

LTM said...

@Jen--the hazards of biweekly posting... but I confess. For exactly 10 days I freaked. Then I put on my big girl panties and started revising... :D

@Julie--I know... and I know... ;p but the revision ball's rollin now~ whoot! :D THANKS, hon. I appreciate you guys~ <3

@Jenn--it's true. Sometimes saying the words out loud makes the feelings go away. That was part of the process. And THANKS!!! :o)