Stepping into the forest of my mind

Stepping into the forest of my mind
Just as every journey begins with a first step, every story begins with the first word.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Revising in Stages

Hiding among the stacks at the library
Now back to my memoir about going to college as a mother of five.  I find that if I try to fix all the suggestions that my critique readers make about my writing, I just sit there and stare at my work.  Oh sometimes, I’ll get up to file a nail or put on the kettle for a fresh pot of tea.  Then I’ll notice that the stove is dirty.  Those five children sometimes bring hungry friends over.  I’ll see another finger nail that needs grooming; I’ve got to choose a loose tea for the pot, choose a teacup…

You get the idea.  Does this ever happen to you when you’re revising?

 So I’ve come to the conclusion that the best thing for me to do when revising, or even writing a new short story, is to hide in the local library for as long as possible—or until I’m found out by my children or husband as they call my cell phone relentlessly. 

Okay, so that keeps me sitting at my laptop, staring at the words.  Now to move forward.

I’ve found it easier to revise in stages.  I tend to work on the simpler fixes first.  You know; further explanations, clarifications, and, in my memoir especially, deeper thoughts.  It gets me into the story of the memoir and crawling ever so slightly forward.

I’m talking about the critique suggestions that I agree with or those that make sense for the writing or story at hand, the themes that I’m trying to connect in the writing.  Like I said in my previous post Writing is not a Cookie-Cutter Science, you only want to address the suggestions that matter to your voice, your writing.

I’m the type of writer who saves the different versions of my chapters or stories.  I’m working on my FIRST revision of the memoir with the simpler fixes.  I tell myself that in the next revision, I’ll work on the complications of time frame in a particular chapter, to re-evaluate chronological order in Chapter 9, for example.  Then in another revision, possibly divide a few longer chapters into shorter, tightly-woven chapters. 

Revising in stages can help a writer move forward on a longer project.  Saving the various revisions can help a writer move back to a prior version of the writing if she decides that the story can no longer move forward without a deleted section or details.  How about you?  Do you keep various versions of your writing when working on a project?  Please offer any suggestions you might have.  Thanks!