• Revisions

    Posted Posted by Guest Writer in WBN News & Events     Comments 2 comments

    A few months ago I went to the Writers League of Texas Agents Conference and pitched my book to anyone who would listen. You there, the lady in the apron restocking the breakfast tacos–would you like to hear about my manuscript?

    Okay, it didn’t go that far. But to the dozens people I did meet and explained my book to, the question “Is it finished” came up often. “Yes!” I would answer confidently, as I had revised it twice, had someone do line edits, and then revised it again. The beast was complete.

    But when the conference ended, I spent five days trying to recover from the weekend-long overload of networking/pitching/being terrified/getting my synopsis ripped apart by feisty agents in front of 250 people/having to wear closed-toed shoes for long amounts of time. When I was finally able to function like a semi-normal human being again, I sat down at my computer and began writing query letters to the agents who had expressed interest. I opened my “completed” manuscript, read the first page, and my brain exploded. I wanted to change everything. It’s not done! I can’t send this out yet! I want to add more! I want to delete more! I must revise revise revise!

    The question is this: even if I do go back through it (which I think I am going to), will I ever be satisfied with the finished product? As writers, do we ever get to a point where we say “Yes! That right there is written perfection. Not a sentence can be improved.” When do we draw the line? When can we hit the final save and send off our work to wherever it needs to go?

    And even if my book does get published (which it will!!), will I open it up, read my first chapter and throw it across the room in agony? Because once that baby is in print there is no turning back. I have noticed this with some articles I have gotten published. I research and work and write until I feel good about my finished product and I submit it to the editor. It gets published, I read it, and … I hate it. I notice so many things I could have changed, sentences I could have made stronger, words I should have eliminated. I then throw the magazine or my laptop into my apartment’s swimming pool, crawl under the covers, and hide from society.

    What about you? Do you find yourself constantly wanting to revise your work, or never being fully satisfied? When is it time to put the pen down or shut off the computer and say “Done!”

    I have no answer to this, and would love your input below.


    Katie’s work has been featured in Austin Lifestyle Magazine, Redbook Magazine, Thrillist.com, and Homerun.com. She is also excited to be contributing to the new Austin publication BE Mag, launching its first issue this November. Prior to moving to Austin, Katie worked as an associate producer for an NBC affiliate in South Florida.

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    Laura Roberts

    Good question. I think eventually you get to the point where you decide the piece is as complete as you can make it, at that point in time–usually because of a deadline–and turn it in for publication. Sure, when it comes out you will probably always notice things you could have improved, but that’s because a) no one is perfect and b) we all continue to learn and grow. When you finally read the published piece, months may have gone by. I would feel worried if you DIDN’T want to change something, at that point. What if you learned some… Read more »

    David Duhr

    There are several magazines here at WBN that Justine and I will not open because they contain some past work that we do not like revisiting. And plenty of links we will never click again. That’s just the way it is for most writers. As we evolve as scribblers (and people), the way we feel about our earlier work devolves. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the work was poor; it’s just that we’ve changed. For example, in a few weeks Laura will probably look at her comment above and think to herself, “Damn, why didn’t I say [x] instead of… Read more »

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