Monday, December 16, 2013

Zen and The Art of Revising- Part Two


By Samantha Wilde


I really needed some DTIP.

Sounds like a vaccination, doesn't it? Actually, it is. It's the way to vaccinate ourselves so we don't, as writers, become sick with the effects of the responses to our work. If you get yourself and your book out there into the industry, you will undoubtedly come up against revisions, sharp edits, criticism, and the worst of them--failure.

I don't mean that you'll fail at everything, but, honestly, even with the best efforts, we can feel as if we have failed. For some writers a fifteen page editorial letter feels like a failure. On some level, most writers imagine they could write without needing any edits. But speaking as one who had to undergo not just multiple revisions (lots of us do that) but multiple revisions for editors with opposite taste, interests, ideas and expectations, I can say that editing the novel improved it incalculably. In order to allow for whole-hearted revision, all writers need DTIP: don't take it personally. This is my survival advice for revising. It's my survival advice for living, too. 

While it may feel like our books are a part of us, like a child, we labor over and give birth to, and any change made to them could mortally wound us, this simply isn't the reality. In the modern world of publishing, most writers find themselves in collaboration with their editors. Being open to criticism means detaching ourselves from our writing--this is the Zen part. Once you surrender your work to the ferocity of the industry, you have to hold close to Zen. Needing to edit your book does not mean something is wrong with it or with you. It does not mean something is wrong with your editor, either! Revisions are not an evaluation of our gifts as writers. They do not stand as a judgment of our ability. I find that in my life I often have to practice, change tactics, try something new, or examine events and reassess my perspective. Writing is not different from life in this respect. It is not static. The process can open us to flexibility, fluidity and non-attachment--all excellent qualities to nurture!

We might imagine that our stories spring perfectly formed from our minds, taking up residence on the page faultlessly. Yet I have never met a writer, including some of the most successful, prominent and most celebrated of writers, who hasn't had to revise. The critical lesson in revision is what we do with it internally. Where we all want to get to--success, accomplishment, and creative satisfaction--is not a place, it's a feeling, and we get it when we sit with the truth of things: manuscripts are works in progress, novels are works in progress, and people are works in progress. And that's the Zen of it. 
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Samantha Wilde’s, I'll Take What She Has was an RT Top Pick. For Publishers Weekly. Watch the book trailer for I'll Take What She Has here. Buy I'll Take What She Has here.Sam, the at-home mother of three small children and the author of This Little Mommy Stayed Home. Samantha Wilde wrote her first novel resting in bed with a lap top and a bag of chocolates while her infant son napped. Of course she didn't start writing until he slept through the night because before that, she couldn't think, let alone write.Born in Northampton, Mass and raised in Williamstown and Nantucket, Mass, Samantha attended Concord Academy, Smith College (with a brief stint at Wellesley College), Yale Divinity School, The New Seminary, and the Kripalu School of Yoga. Before full-time motherhood, she taught full-time yoga and worked as a minister.Read herblog, laugh at her outrageous videos and like her on FB or follow her on twitter @whatshehas


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