Thursday, September 9, 2010

Why am I doing this?

I’m currently in the midst of an intense revision of my manuscript.

It is NOT fun.

I have to force myself to do it. 

I keep finding excuses to do everything else.

Maybe I should whip up a blog post? Great!

Clean the bathrooms? Absolutely! (Um, not really, but sometimes the idea is appealing).

Revise? Blech.

Why? Well, revisions require concentration. They are somewhat devoid of the creative release that comes from writing the first draft. (Don't anyone yell at me. I didn't say they were devoid of creativity - just the easy flow of the creative process when it's all rushing out and you can't type fast enough. There's no "fast" typing in a revision.)

Plus, I'm a perfectionist, so the whole time I'm revising, I'm irked that I didn't do it "right" the first time. Never mind that I know I didn't know what I was doing the first time. Or that I know that no matter how  many times I look at this, I'll always find something to tweak.

Regardless, I stay perpetually annoyed with myself. Which is no fun for anyone.

There's no other way to put it.

Revisions are hard work.

One part of my revision process is to search out all the passive verbs in my manuscript and, in most cases, change them into active verbs.

I’ll give you an example (from the first paragraph of Chapter 11, in case you’re curious).

     His hands were shaking and his palms were sweaty.

(If grammar was a long time ago, or just not your thing, the passive verbs are “were shaking” and “were sweaty” - well, technically the passive verb is "were" and "shaking" and "sweaty" are adjectives, but you don't really care, do you?)

This sentence will now read (probably, unless I change it again):

     Todd's hand shook as he reached for a napkin to dry the sweat from his palms.

Now – honestly – did this change the sentence much?


Would I have noticed the passive verbs until I took Angela Hunt’s class at Blue Ridge, or until Edie Melson pointed out how many (57!) I had in Chapter 7 alone?

No. Not a chance.

So, what’s the big deal? Who cares?

Well, apparently, publishers care. Editors care. Agents care.

Passive verbs are just one of the hallmarks of amateurish writing. And eliminating them is a big step in moving your writing from “this person has no idea what they’re doing” status to “there might be hope for this author” status.

But there is another reason.

A far more important reason.

Because I do not write for an agent, an editor or a publisher.

I write for an audience of One.

And even if no one outside my closest circle of friends ever reads a word of this manuscript, it needs to be my best.

My very best.

He deserves nothing less.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got approximately 1500 passive verbs to eliminate.


Alycia Morales said...

That's a great post, Lynn! I am with you on striving to do my best because God is my primary audience. He is also the one who has blessed me with this gift. I need to use it well and allow it to glorify Him.

Joanne Brady said...

you're doing great Lynn!Hang in there,Remember
you're out of the boat now and trusting him for each step.(even if they're baby steps)

Kay Stocking said...

I'm so new at all this - not close to having something to go back and edit - but I'm learning so much from posts such as yours. Underneath all the new I'm learning, I'm so thankful for the reminders of Who is truly important in it all!

Blessings to you!