My name is Kathy, and I am a revis-aholic. I came to this realization recently while working on the copy edits for "Don't Expect Magic." There were a number of signs, and they've been there for a while, but I didn't want to acknowledge them. For instance, at the end of my second revision on the book, I noticed I was spending a lot of time changing things -- only to change them back during my next read-thru. I justified this to myself by the fact that some changes stuck, so it was worth a try. I still believe this on some level, but when it got to the point where I'd spend an hour on one word, changing it back and forth from one synonym to another... Clearly, I had a problem I wasn't willing to acknowledge.
This pattern repeated during copy edits, but was exacerbated by my obsession with removing words I re-used too often. YES! I KNOW THIS IS A GOOD THING! Thus the obsession. I tackled "just" as well as I could -- often with the result that I over-used "only." Still, "just" was not my big problem. I became obsessed with replacing words that are impossible not to repeat. "Look at how many times I'm using the word 'the'! Surely, there must be a better word!" (The preceding was exaggerated for dramatic effect.) More frightening was the amount of time I spent globally searching for words I was convinced I had overused, only to find that I had NOT USED THEM EVEN ONCE! That's when I began to suspect I had a problem.
I won't even get into the more obvious signs, such as avoiding friends when deadlines approached, giving up showering, scavenging for food in the pantry because I didn't have time to cook, shop or even order out, etc.
In retrospect, now that the copy edits are back in the hands of the publisher, I realize that the obsession with the small stuff was a way to compensate for the fact that it is too late to turn my novel from a light, contemporary tale with fantasy elements into a dark, dystopian epic about survival and redemption. Or an adult literary mystery. Or a Victorian novel of manners. Or anything else other than what it is. Which is a book I like, and more importantly, the book I wrote.
The final sign of my addiction came in the FedEx line, when I was still revising, seconds before I was to ship the manuscript back to New York. I finally acknowledged my problem and forced myself to let the book go.
And now back to the rough draft of the next book, which, when completed, I can began to revise again...(hee hee hee).
I'm a novelist and screenwriter living in Los Angeles. Find details on this "blog" about my books and appearances. Want to reach me? You can Contact Me here.
What I'm working on now:
- A new YA novel
- A middle grade novel
- An original screenplay for the Disney Channel
Writing Book of the Month:
"The Comic Toolbox" by John Vorhaus.