Posted by: jeannineatkins | February 28, 2011

Revision and Magic

Sleet is falling over evergreens drooping with snow and ice. I’m revising a manuscript that looks pretty familiar, which isn’t surprising since I looked at it yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that and .. you get the picture. The dripping outside the window is getting way too loud.

Part of me wants to flee from my laptop. I have other chores, including a talk to write. But it’s a day when I feel like I need some magic, and few surprises will happen if I shape explanatory prose or push the vacuum cleaner. Magic isn’t going to come by finding places for the words on the manuscript I’m revising, though many clumps need to be pulled apart and straightened out.

I stacked up a few books by my freesias for an afternoon reward and a little shaking up of my mind. But I’m hoping to find new paths even before, by asking my characters to get up and try another room or city or different company. Characters aren’t going to surprise us when we’re asking them to pick up their feet or elbows while we tidy. I’ve got to set mine in motion and watch hard, knowing I might be rewarded only with some dull dialog and shuffling among furniture. I’ve got to let go of the fact that I’m revising and nudge everyone to play again, get a little wild, make a whole new mess. Cleanup will have to wait, while I kick around the rubble.



  1. “…asking my characters to get up and try another room or city or different company.”
    You just gave me an idea!
    Thanks for an inventive post on a grumbly morning when my characters just won’t do anything right. Maybe I haven’t been asking them the right way.

  2. Oh, I hope we both can benefit from this pep talk! I always find getting to the chair is the hardest, and sometimes the first half hour or so there. And the longer away from a project, often the harder it gets, so yay for you for committing yourself.
    Let’s get to work! And hope for some surprises there, if we’re going to have to wait another long month for spring!

  3. I’m so happy you found an idea here, Toby!
    I don’t know about you, but I think I’ve been being too polite with them. A little less asking, a little more shoving or tricking may be in order!

  4. That window is absolutely beautiful. I’d curl up in a chair & just stare at it and listen to my characters for a while, I think. How will they sound to you through/around all those crystals?

  5. The view was pretty to me yesterday when the snow didn’t yet have a slick of ice and I could go out and cross country ski on it. Getting out on skis where the snow is almost pristine makes it tolerable, but strapping on sharp-bottomed things to my boots, yeti grips, and still struggling to stay upright is getting tiresome.
    I like your question, but like you more for bringing in a whiff of warm California air! Thanks!

  6. Love your revision metaphor. I think it’s spot on.

  7. I sat down. I wrote. Things happened. It was hard. More tomorrow!
    I hope it was a good day for you.

  8. Thanks, Karen. And thank you for putting some Monkees music in my head today!

  9. Yay, Kristi! That sounds rather like my day. A lot of clunking, but as time passed things rolled a bit more smoothly. Good lucky for our tomorrows!

  10. “…strapping on sharp-bottomed things to my boots, yeti grips..”
    They’re actually called “Yak Trax”, but I like your name, “Yeti Grips”, MUCH better! (And can you believe that I Googled “Yeti Grips” and got 390,000 hits?!) — PL

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