With writing I honor the start of each new project by buying a set of my favorite pens – Staedtler Triplus Fineliners. And don’t forget about Revision Skittles — they’re a tiny celebration for every page completed.
Confession: I love revising. Love it.
Don’t get me wrong, I love drafting too – the suspense of becoming acquainted with new characters and the surprise of figuring out what they’ll say and how they’ll react. ª
I get the whole Girl Scouts’ song “Make new friends…” but I’ve never had a problem with “but keep the old.”
Revisions *contented sigh* are like going home to my friends-since-elementary-school, sitting on a porch and drinking apple cider while we chat and chat.
It’s familiar. It’s comfortable. And it’s engaging. Uncovering new layers, ambitions, motivation. Tightening and interweaving. Discovering threads of nuance I’d already included that need to be enhanced.
Give me colored pens, a large bag of Revision Skittles, and a quiet place to work and I’ll stay happily sequestered until St. Matt or the puggles demand some attention or life intervenes. Emerging for bathroom breaks and refills of my mug and Revision Skittles, pausing for Inspiration Walks, Inspiration Workouts and Inspiration Bubble-baths, my mind is full of beloved characters and trouble spots in the manuscript.
And even when I’m away – 26 sixth graders demand a lot of my attention and energy for much of the week – there are scenes and scenarios bubbling away on the back burner of my brain.
So when I’m lacking on Twitter, slacking on my blog and being a delinquent about returning phone calls, don’t worry. I haven’t been kidnapped by pirates, gotten lost in the woods or come down with an incurable strain of porcine flu.
I’m just ensconced in my revision-cave, sugar-fortified, ink-stained fingers, scribbled-across pages and a smile.
Be back soon.
I have a tendency to develop little routines. You could call them traditions – St. Matt calls them obsessions. But they’re just little habits that help me get stuff done.
For instance, I’ve listened to DMB’s “Dancing Nancies” on the first day of school for the past 13 years (since my sophomore year in HS). Before I serve in tennis, I have to bounce a few times in place – not the ball, mind you, I bounce me. Every night before I go to bed I have to check that the closet door is shut so I don’t get sucked into another dimension, Poltergeist-style.
Completely normal little routines.
With writing I have many of these. My latest one is Revision-Skittles. I’m not sure when it switched from being that’s-fun to that’s-necessary, but at some point between January and now I started the habit of allowing myself one Skittles Core per page revised.
Skittles really are the perfect candy for revision –besides being made of rainbows, creativity and inspiration – they’re small. Individually they don’t pack much of a calorie wallop, and if I ate enough to have a detrimental affect on my sugar-level, my worry was overshadowed by the thrill of knowing I’d had an excellent revision day. Plus, Revision-Skittle sugar-high carried me through a couple of extended elliptical hours.
Somewhere along the line Bruschi became a Revision-Skittle addict too, and now he will gladly curl up next to me during late-night revision sessions and wait semi-patiently for his loyalty to be rewarded with a circular piece of sugary goodness. And if I’m taking too long with any individual page, he’ll let me know this with a wet nose to my calf or an impatient paw on my arm.
Last week I finished up my second pass on my WIP (currently titled TBALMCSAP, but I seriously need to come up with something better soon). In a minor revision-miracle, not quite as impressive as Chanukah’s 8-days of light, my last bag of Skittles lasted to the final page of TBALMCSAP. I ate the last one as I pressed *SEND*
After church today we stopped at Wegmans to do our weekly shopping. I smiled through the Wonka-esque candy aisle and skipped over to the shelf where Revision-Skittles wait for happy lil’ people like me.
It was empty.
Panic didn’t set in immediately, but it didn’t take longer than 5 minutes either. There are many other revision passes that will need to be made on TBALMCSAP! What about the WIP I began outlining last night. I WILL need to revise again. Soon. The rainbowful flavors began to fade from my memory, my head began to spin…
Before we were even home from Wegmans I was Googling the number for other supermarkets and calling out the digits to an indulgent St. Matt.
As I whimpered, “What if they’ve stopped making them?” He patted my leg and tapped the numbers on his keypad.
“Hello, I was wondering if you had Revision-Skittles in stock?”
Panic = Gone!
Laughter = Extreme!
As I giggled and tee-hee’d St. Matt shot me you’re-in-trouble-looks, corrected himself and managed to ascertain that Giant did stock Skittles Cores but only in large bags. “Oh, that won’t be a problem. Thanks so much.”