Trust the Process

When I was working toward my MFA, there were times when I couldn’t see how much I was improving, whether all those essays and drafts and rewrites were making me a better writer. I couldn’t see into the future. All I could do was trust the process.

Two years later, I feel like I’m back in the same place.

My debut novel is finished and off to the printers. I’m working now on revisions for my next middle grade book. But you guys, this revision is really hard.

Adi said on Monday that being published doesn’t make you a writer. Hard work and vision and intention does that. I’ll add that being published doesn’t make revising any easier either. I would have thought that going through the edits for PARCHED would have made me more confident and efficient at revising.

Not so. At least not that I can see yet. Revision on this side of the book deal is just as messy as ever.

Some days I think my characters are delightful and the setting is fantastic. Other days, I question everything. The worst, though, is when I’m tempted to rush through, to slap on a few bandaids, dab some superglue into the cracks and call it good.

By the time I finished my degree, the transformation in my writing was obvious. Similarly, I know I learned things by writing and rewriting and rewriting PARCHED. I just can’t see it yet. And it’s not making this revision any easier.

But that’s okay. I’ve been here before. I know that I can trust the process.

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19 Comments

Filed under Editing and Revising, Writing and Life

19 responses to “Trust the Process

  1. Joshua McCune

    Friggin sux, a wee bit. Was kinda hoping the magic wand of a publication deal would grant me untold powers. Ah well. Time to get my Stuart Smalley on 🙂

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  2. Cynthia Levinson

    It sounds, Melanie, is if you can also trust your editor and your critique group and your MFA classmates and your EMLA buddies… You’ve built a big support network.

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  3. Totally agree, Melanie. Revising under contract is not only not easier, it’s extra hard. No time to step back and let things percolate, no extra brain power to think about other projects. Could the solution be more cats?

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  4. More cats won’t help. They sit on your lap (and your keyboard) at the most inopportune times. Try wine! Or chocolate! Or wine and chocolate! 🙂

    Melanie, I’m reading the PARCHED ARC right now, and I have no doubt you can pull off this, or any other, revision that lands in your lap (watch out, cats!). You’ve got mad skills, girl. Unfortunately, the only way through is through. Keep trusting the process! (And drinking wine. And eating chocolate.)

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  5. Laurie Boyle Crompton

    *pokes head out of own revision cave* *holds up fist in sign of emu-revision-sister unity* *grabs giant mug of tea* *ducks back in cave*
    We can do this!

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  6. Oh, Melanie, I’m totally in the same place right now. If you manage to find the magical confidence stick, please feel free to come over and beat me with it. You know where I live. 🙂

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  7. Well I’ve been avoiding starting a revision because I’m kinda worried I can’t do it justice. I guess I need to jump in, start and trust the process. Thanks for the nudge.

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  8. I’m about to receive editorial notes any moment now. Thanks for a mantra that I know will come in handy.

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  9. abwestrick

    Melanie – Just this morning I also posted on the whole revision struggle. We are on the same wavelength here! But my post wallowed in self-doubt. Your “trust the process” spin is definitely more positive. Hang in there. We will make book #2 happen, for better or worse…! My post is at http://abwestrick.com/uncategorized/self-doubt

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  10. I’m in the same place too! Glad I’m not alone, I guess, though I’m sorry others are suffering too. Is there a way to jump over novel number 2 and go right to number 3? (Having a bad writing day. . . .)

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  11. J

    “The worst, though, is when I’m tempted to rush through, to slap on a few bandaids, dab some superglue into the cracks and call it good.”

    This is me at this very moment. Dude is it tempting to not only call it good but *let other people see it with its clothes half-off*. Not a good impression to leave in anyone’s mind.

    Sorry, little draft. Closing the door on you to give you some privacy. See you in spring when you’re decent.

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    • What a perfect analogy, J! From now on, I will think of it whenever I have the urge to kick a poor, half-naked little draft out the door just to get rid of it. And I know those days will come, like, um, tomorrow.

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