Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

Why I revise first drafts before *anyone* sees them

"Minttu broke off, a complaint about apprentices dying on her lips as Ansa entered the room."

Umm. While you can parse this with some effort, the possibility of apprentices dying -- possibly even on Minttu's lips! -- seems cause for complaint indeed. New sentence required here, fast. Sometimes people rave, "You write such clean drafts!" No, dear hearts, I protect you from the ragged ones.

I seem to be channeling my sophomore year high school English teacher, Smilin' Bill Novak, who would just write, "NO" in the margins of particularly bad arguments. I do that. I have not yet gotten to, "DON'T WASTE MY TIME," but I fear it's coming before I get through this book.

(I used to have dreams of him turning up at my first book signing with a book he'd already scrawled that in. My brain apparently has moved on, because I don't dream that any more. And really I would be overjoyed to see Smilin' Bill at a signing. Or, y'know, at Perkins. Whatever.)

I am avoiding referring to this book by name enough that it seems pretty clear that Sampo is the wrong thing. The right thing has not yet come calling, and Zed hasn't had the time to read Thermionic Night, so I'd have to give him lots of lead time to work his magic on this one.

For some reason, all this revision makes me feel much more cheerful: think of all the things I'm able to not screw up now! Think of how much better this book is already! Leaps and bounds! I am able, in this stage, to compare it to what it has been rather than what it could be. It reminds me about the bit in Madeleine L'Engle, where one of the old Christian ladies is cheered by the notion that she has come from a monkey, because it makes her feel like she's accomplished so much already. I fear that this book's evolutionary destination may be more lemur than man now, twisted and....right, let's just squash that one on its way out.

This is what happens when I try to talk myself into a good mood: I start channeling Jordan from "Real Genius." Sigh.

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