Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Finding the Light in Revision Cave*

*With apologies to the heroic rescue of the trapped youngsters of the flooded cave in northern Thailand. No concrete comparison is appropriate. But to be honest, this real life wrenching drama inspired this post.

Dealing with revision suggestions can feel like trying to crawl in complete darkness. That is because after catching one’s breath from the gut-punch (akin to someone saying your perfect baby is not so lovely after all L) and then allowing the suggestions to sink in, many a time the writer still can’t see why these suggestions were made.

It's easy, even fun, to make changes when the suggestion make sense. These "Ah-Hah (!)" suggestions make the write's heart grow limbs and do an exhilarating Hopak, which is a Cossacks' leg-kicking dance, in joyous appreciation. It's just that these types of suggestions are the rare ones.

Most editorial suggestions fall into the other camp. Be it by a Beta reader, an Intern, an agent or an editor, the writer feels like telling them they just didn’t get it and the fault lies in their flawed reading, not her writing.

But feelings should have nothing to do with it. Feelings and intuition guided the first draft all the way. Revision is about returning reason to the equation and reminding oneself the feedback came from someone who, just for making the suggestions, is a helpful soul.

So now the writer moves to phase two. To implement the suggested changes, or not to? That is the question.

My answer is that I must try. Not because the reader was right. Not because the reader was wrong. But because it is good for me to try.

This is where it feels like I'm crawling in the dark. How to make changes that don’t resonate? Where, who, and with what?

Take a deeeeep breath. Trust in the muse. She is akin to a miner’s light.

She’ll get you there, and your humanity will be better for it.


  1. Wishing you the best on your revisions, dear friend, now and always.

  2. Oh yes, I'm a firm believer in trying. Good luck with all your revisions.

  3. Revision is so hard, but usually worth the effort. I like to revise the word "revision" into "tweaking" because it sounds less intimidating. "I can't possibly revise this, but I can make a few tweaks here and there."

    Good luck!

  4. Appropriate post! I'm revising my N.Korean novel to a verse novel now, go figure.

    1. WOW. Knowing that excellent story, I am astonished. Good for you for taking on the challenge.

  5. Great post, Mirka! I can relate 100%.