C is for Cool in the Abcedaria of Revising
Susan Bell in her marvelous book The Artful Edit suggests that there are three types of self-editors: 1) Arrogant and blind 2) Panicked and over-reactive and 3)Pragmatic and COOL. To quote her "You consider yourself neither genius nor idiot. You edit like the French recommend exacting revenge:coldly."
And how do you keep your cool in the revising process? We write our first draft from our heart and intuition - or at least many of us that are 'pantsers' do. When I write that first (and possibly second) draft I have no idea where the story is going. I am telling myself the story and I'm telling it like a breathless adolescent tells the story of a movie she has just seen and loved. That is badly with way too many and thens going on and no discernible time line. When I enter the revision process I slow down and look at every word to see if it is carrying its weight. I move from the large view (altitude) to the minute one (forest floor). I become a metaphorical engineer constantly asking 'will this metaphor carry the weight of the meaning or not?'.
I was the designer initially - the architect with many ideas of how beautiful this bridge might become. Turrets! I exclaimed. My bridge can have turrets and flying buttresses and be like a Gaudi dream. I draw it all out and it looks fantastic - pointy bits everywhere. Then I change hats - put on my engineer hardhat and stroll down to the work-site with my clipboard and pencil. "Whoa! This bridge isn't going to carry the load it has to. Those fancy flying buttresses look good but they add way too much weight. What was that architect thinking? She'll have to save that idea for another structure - maybe a Gothic novel but not this YA one."
Okay, it is early and the metaphors are starting to slip but you get the idea. Coolness doesn't mean boring. I love the revision process. At first I didn't. I thought it was too rigid and scary but then I realized it was quite the opposite. Revising is where you get down to the real heart of your work and shine it up so everyone will see what you mean. To find that heart you must use a cool noggin.
Here's a picture of cool...from the land of cool where I live - Labrador!