The 7 Day revision. Easy steps to insanity.

I have had a managing editor from Simon & Schuster request my manuscript after a successful pitch, which I’m pretty excited about. I have until the end of September to submit it, which I’m not as thrilled about.

My main concern is making it match my amazing and tight pitch! Obviously it’s nearly there but it also needs a lot of tweaking and a few missing scenes thrown in. For the last few weeks I’ve been revising at a pretty leisurely pace, marking down errors, problems with scenes and characters and generally making sure my tone is on-point.

Now however, it’s crunch time. I have 7 days to get this baby up to standard. I started this process at my local library yesterday but today I’ve realised I need to be able to wake up and start work immediately, without having to worry about anything else. My lovely wife is preparing my meals (that I don’t get delivered) and putting up with me generally being grumpy and unavailable.

Here is a look at my process :

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That was at the library anyway. You can see the mish mash of slow revision and fast revision there. The scene cards are from the slow revision, the structural edit to the side is from months ago, the big pile of loose leaf manuscript I printed out that day and the other books are a copy of my manuscript with markings leading to my ‘slow’ revision notes and workbooks guiding me through my fast revision. Later tonight I’ll be starting my writing, going through both my fast post-its and my slow revision notes to get it ‘right’ on the fly.

Oh yeah, last nano I started writing the book again from scratch. That’s the printout with the yellow bulldog clip on it. I’ll be using that as I need it while doing my write-in. Everything until the last two days will be done in pen, after that it all gets typed up! Then my wife gets to read it and make notes, and I get to read her notes and alter the manuscript again based on her insights (where I agree that I was being stupid).

Here is my setup today, now that I’ve moved everything to my bed:

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As you can see, it’s a little more cramped but I also have my cat with me (trying to stay out of shot in the upper right corner). Plus I get to annoy my wife by constantly brainstorming with her and getting her to reassure me I’m a creative genius.

It hasn’t been easy this past few weeks anyway, what with a hail storm partly flooding our lounge room and office causing the lounge to smell of mud and dry rot and our electricity to cut out for a day. My poor cat, who my book is about, got side-swiped by a car as well, and I couldn’t write a thing for the two days he was at the cat hospital and we were unsure if he would make it. Here he is being brave with his little bandage:

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And here he is back home soon after being an absolute sook on anti inflammatory medicine and methadone patches:

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He has the bandages and patches off now and is actually eating so I don’t need to feed him food with a syringe anymore. This has helped my ability to write greatly!

I’d better get back to marking up my manuscript; I only have sixty pages to go and then I can really begin to go crazy with the rewrite. With luck I’ll get it all finished on deadline and without being arrested for streaking down my street screaming about plot holes.

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Cracking the whip

I have been acutely aware of the time I’ve been spending when I’m home from work sitting around watching Anime and House of Cards; playing computer games; and catching up on sleep. I have therefore decided that I am going to force myself to write every single day. I do realise that this is what I am meant to have been doing anyway, but I’ve been getting over a couple of medical issues along with the death of an old school friend. That’s right: this blog is going to be just as funny and irreverent as the ones before it. Just to lighten the mood, here is a picture of my cat, Minkah, doing an impression of me preparing to write:

ImageThis is actually going to be relevant later on in this blog post.

I was going to set a goal of starting tomorrow but realised that this meant leaving myself open to putting it off till I find myself playing more of the South Park video game at 2 am and needing to go to bed so I thought it was better to at least blog about my decision to write. My main motivation – aside from the obvious goal of being taken seriously as a professional writer – is the fact that I have a novel to edit and re-draft. This is something that I have been planning to go back to for about three years now and even got a structural edit on about a year ago.

Upon further reflection I have realised I need to make a note of the basic sequence of events and then use that to write the book again from scratch, this time with three dimensional characters, excitement, premises that make sense and more humour. Also tragedy. I also need to do more research on cats, their different types, how they act and what differences they have country to country as my book is full of them. That’s right, I am writing a book about cats. Cats who fight evil. Specifically, my cat Minkah.

See, Minkah went missing for just over eight weeks a few years ago, by the end of which we were pretty sure we would never see him again; then we get a phone call from our local vet saying that someone brought him in, they scanned the microchip, and he was ready to be picked up. I wrote the book to try and explain what was going on for those two months because he seemed absolutely fine. The only obvious conclusion I could come to was that he was fighting evil with some sort of Feline Space Corps and could only come back once a significant mission had been completed. Just as obviously, he was fighting with psychic light weapons.

Going back to my opening, the death of my friend made me realise more than ever that this span of life we have is incredibly short and we need to make the absolute most of it. For me, that means getting all these crazy ideas I have out of my head and onto paper so I can experience the satisfaction of seeing my friends, peers, and total strangers become confused, bewildered, and hopefully entertained by them. I’m also writing a play based on the main character from I Think You Ate My Sandwich. After that I’ll probably write another draft of that novel to publish properly, in a form that actually tells a complete story without so many loose ends. That’s right: this time you get to find out the significance of the pocket watch.

I’m looking forward to having a few of you along for my journey as I chronicle the painful process of cutting and polishing these crazy diamonds in the rough over the next few months. I’ve also made a definite goal to have an agent representing my work by the end of this year. I have a lot of hard work ahead of me. Maybe I should volunteer at a cat shelter…