The Revision Conversation

I have recently started revising Go West my soon to be published YA novel. I’ve been reading through my editor’s (Andrew from Carolrhoda Lab) notes. Which by the way are excellent. Each one could elicit an entire conversation and I feel thrilled and lucky to have such a smart set of eyes on this manuscript.

One thing I’m realizing as I read through something I haven’t read in about 9 months, is that I’m a different writer now. One small example is that when I wrote the first draft I wasn’t a parent. Go West is about a teenage boy who runs away and I’ve realized that in my writing I’ve been pretty unsympathetic to his mother -who has her own set of issues.  However, if I wrote this today I doubt very much I would write her character the same way.

I also think I’m a better writer than when I first wrote this -which is great because it’s always nice to feel like you’re improving on something you devote a lot of time to.  (Since I wrote Go West, I’ve completed a first and second draft of a new book. ) There are little things in Go West that make me cringe but are easy to fix. I guess it’s just nice to see a progression.

My freshman year in college I took an intro to lit course with a white-bearded professor who’s name now escapes me. Imagine Gandalf but with a love of Henry James.  One of his pet peeves was when people talked about whatever we were reading and referred to the author. “It’s not the author anymore,” he chided us. “What is the text telling you?” This emphasis on the text as separate from the author comes back to me now as I’m revising my own words. As I re-read Go West I make a lot of notes. These notes are a kind of conversation I’m having between myself, the text, and the person I was when I originally wrote it. Luckily we’re all good friends.

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