Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I'm currently revising the novel that will be my MFA thesis. It's a bit of a monster -- 125,00ish words, some 400 pages. The longest I've written. It's very difficult to manage.

When I've got specific feedback for a book -- as I do for some portions of this one -- I like to read the work through these readers' eyes and imagine what led them to say what they said, and how I might alter the structure to please them better. I also tweak the sentences constantly.

When I don't have specific feedback for a section I prune a lot and change words and images, and prune more, and maybe add one sentence, but it's harder for me to perceive the work holistically enough to make larger structural revisions. I tend to write fairly complete drafts (in part because I fuss with them so much as I'm writing my "first" draft) so that explains this in part, as well. But it's frustrating! I want to transform my work. I want to take quantum leaps. Etc. But maybe that's something I do more in-between texts than within them. I'm not sure.

How do you revise? Does it feel good? I try not to feel anything about it.


  1. With a poem, I just try to get back into whatever intuitive feel or vibe set off the piece. . . and then it doesn't feel like anything unusual from there, really. Creation and revision don't feel that different for me, and like you said, I fuss with it quite a lot anyway.

    I've never settled into a rhythm for fiction, though. I've tried all kinds of different ways of revising my fiction, and none of them felt right. In fact I really haven't given fiction a serious shot in like two months. . . frustrating.

  2. Although, I guess when I revise I do consciously try to do it from the position of a reader. I can be pretty detached, so I try to just sit back and be like, Hmmm, is it bullshit? And if it passes the shit test, I try to approximate whether the work does anything intense to me-as-detached-reader. I know when I've written something decent because it makes me swoon to the same degree that my favorite stuff does. Any parts that do that consistently stays in. . .

  3. I am not able to enjoy my own work as another person would, sadly. I can feel that way in the initial writing but in revision I get too nervous and self-loathing. I aspire to your process!