I’m not only waiting to find out when some guest posts will be going live – so I can give you links – but I’m also in the midst of revising a book. That’s why things are quiet around here.
Revising a book is never a whole lot of fun, even when I know that the changes will make the book better. For me, the biggest hurdle to get past is the destruction of the current version – no matter how extensive the revision or what it entails, I will have to cut out text from the book. Clearly, I put that text there in the first place because I liked it and thought it needed to be there. The most obvious way to do this is to delete it, but this is an inherently stressful choice – what if I need one sentence later? What if the way I wrote X is so perfect that I can’t do it so well ever again?
My strategy with revision – for those of you who might be struggling with your process – is to immediately duplicate all of my files. (This is in addition to the backup.) I then stick one set of files into a folder called “First Delivered Version” or something equally clever, and put the rest into a second file called “Second Delivered Version”. This way, I can do whatever I want to the files in the second folder without fear of losing anything. And yes, sometimes, I do go back into the first folder and copy a paragraph or even a scene to paste into the second version – that happens most often when I move the timeline around. The truth is, though, that all that writer anxiety is undeserved – cut text is seldom needed again, and if it is, it’s usually better the second time I write it.
The other issue with revising is that it puts my mind into a certain place, a place where I reassess everything. And I mean everything. I must be very tedious to be around when I’m in this phase – everyone I know can recognize it at twenty paces. I rearrange furniture to improve the flow of the room. I move pictures – or I get Mr. C. to move pictures – to improve the composition on the wall. I reorganize the location of dishes in the kitchen cabinets to improve access and efficiency. I sort books – by genre, by author or by whim – and reorganize the bookshelves.
It won’t surprise you to learn that my knitting becomes part of this reassessment, as well. In fact, I am most likely to frog a project while I’m revising a book. I give my knitting projects on the go a very hard look when I’m giving a book that same hard look. This week, I have partially completed knitting projects lined up on the carpet in my office. At least two will be culled from the herd before the week is out. That’s just the way it goes when I revise.
One decision I’ve made already is with regards to that amazing fair isle bag. I LOVE that bag and was charging along on it until I got to the handles. I’d thought that it would be really cool to do the bag strap in double knitting, a technique for creating a double sided fabric that I’d never tried before. The truth is that I despise double knitting. It’s awkward and it’s slow and it’s a complete pain in the neck. I’ve managed to work 2″ of strap in five attempts. I’m also worried that it will felt differently from the rest of the bag. The bag has being neglected ever since my last attempt at double knitting – which gained two rows, about 3/8″ of length. So that strap is on the To Be Frogged list. Won’t take long, then I’ll probably knit the strap in the round and get it done. I really want to finish the bag, but this handle strategy needs a revision.
Do you periodically revise or rearrange your life, your home or your knitting? Does the urge come at regular intervals? Or is it tied to something else, the way mine is linked to revisions?