I stalled because what I had was a mess.
The first draft was extremely rough. Some people call that stage of writing an “intentionally shitty first draft.” Whole scenes contradicted each other. I dropped and added situations and action without resolving internal consistency. I just kept plowing forward.
In composing the second draft, the one I finished last month, I added a bit of polish, prettied up a lot of ugly language, and made copious notes for changes.
And then I got stuck. I had a second draft of the novel. And I had a whole pile of notes for revision. And I was intimidated by the thought of trying to merge the notes into the novel. I had this idea where I would read through the notes, make links in each note to the place where the revision needed to be made, and then follow the notes like a recipe.
But that seemed like a huge job.
I knew I had a business trip and vacation coming up, and I knew that even under the best of circumstances I had difficulty with creative writing while traveling. So I just put it aside.
And it stayed put aside the week after I got home. I decided to not start the revisions during the workweek. I’d get going on the Independence Day weekend.
I didn’t start the revisions yesterday either. Instead, I Googled some advice on how to revise a novel, because I was starting to think my notes-and-links idea was a non-starter. In particular, I was looking for tips on doing revisions with Scrivener, the writing software I use. I found this, and this, and this, and this, and read them all and became confused. Much color-coding. Such keywording. So storyboard. Wow.
None of the advice was relevant to how I work. I’m not a visual diagrammatic writer, I’m a linear writer. I start at the beginning and go through to the end and then when I’m ready to revise I start at the beginning again. (Indeed, I sometimes wonder whether it makes sense for me to use Scrivener at all, given that it’s designed for visual, diagrammatic writers who jump all over the place in their writing. Is Scrivener overkill for me? A question for another day.)
In thinking through the problem, I found my answer. I reread my notes one more time. Turned out there weren’t as many as I thought. I dropped two or three notes in place next to the sections of the novel they pertained to. Then I started over again from the beginning. And I got a good chunk of revisions done today.
A note to readers: I have two self-published stories available for the curious. They’re both science-fiction comedy adventures.
“Mr Shaddo” is about what happens when a professional thief gets hired to steal a gladiator and gets mixed up in a spat between members of an alien royal family.
“The Biggest Man in Lilliput” updates Jonathan Swift’s setting and situations for the 21st century.
A note to editors and agents: The novel I’m working on now is my third. My first is complete and out to agents and editors now. The second is 90% done and ready to read, but short — more of a novella or novelette than a full-length novel. If you want to see any of the three, just let me know: .