Revision is sucking some (or all) of the magic out of writing.
Writing isn’t all unicorns and rainbows, but there is something magical about bringing characters to life and seeing them through their trials.
Revisions are necessary, and I am the first to admit that I need revisions. Lots of them. I rely on them to take my work from words thrown on the page to something (hopefully) better and understandable by brains other than mine. Whether I am revamping character arcs, removing unnecessary that’s, or trying to show rather than tell, there is something about the mechanics that eats the story.
I’ve heard other authors say the same thing, sometimes a bit derisively toward new authors. And no, I don’t think writing is meant to be rainbows, sparkles, and fairy feathers. But how much it loses was brought home to me when I came across a piece of my old, badly written work. I didn’t remember much about the story when the Word file lit up my screen. Checking the date on it, I last saved it eight years ago.
Not even sure why I started reading it, but I did, and I was hooked. I wanted to see what happened. I learned to love these old and forgotten characters all over again. I wanted to see them succeed even through the grammar mistakes, typos, and some areas written so badly I cringed and skimmed through them.
I must have struggled with the ending eight years ago as there were four different ones (labeled as such). The last one I settled on was by far the best. Glad I didn’t stop with the crummy first one.
I hope I feel that same elation, that same need to know what happens, (although I hope I’m not cringing at sections) about the current story I’m working on when I go back and read it with fresh eyes. I have been so lost in polishing it I’ve started to wonder if the story itself is worth telling. Will anyone care what happens to the protagonists? Do I care anymore?
I can’t answer for others, but for me, the answer is yes, I do care about them. I’ve just lost the forest in the, well, not even the trees. More like the branches and leaves.
It also gives me a little hope. My older work may not be very good (and this was clearly a rough draft as it doesn’t look like it was even spell checked), but I cared about the characters. I slogged through a lot of stuff that needs work because I wanted to see what happened. I even stayed up late one night because I wanted to get to the end and know how things worked out for them. I loved them and I had to know how their story ended. (I was pretty certain it was going to be a happy ending because I know me and I wrote it).