Interstitial Moment:

I want to talk some more about revision because this summer alone I have revised a novel with my son Adam (B.U.G.), a novel of my own (about the family of Shouting Fey, though the title itself is still in flux), three books of children’s poetry (GRUMBLES FROM THE FOREST, BUG OFF! and THUNDER UNDERGROUND), two books of adult poetry (THINGS TO SAY TO A DEAD MAN,  and EKATERINISLAV) and a bunch of individual poems as well.

And what I have learned that I can use permanently?  The answers to that may surprise you.

I have learned:

1. To read the revision letter several times before responding or reacting. One’s first response is always that desire for unconditional love. Don’t tell me what’s wrong, tell me what’s right!

2. Revise the revision before you send it out. Your first thoughts may be best, of course, but they may need titivating, a word I learned in Scotland and adore. As one Scottish friend defined it: “flower arranging.” Of course, it may sometimes be more like arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic!

3. Forgive yourself small infelicities even as you fix them. We are none of us perfect, so why should our prose (or poetry) be perfection?

4. Say thank you to the editor though you may not feel it at the moment. Wait until you do. Publishing works best when it is a cooperative venture, not an antagonistic one.

5. Remember that we are lucky as writers. The mistakes we make won’t kill us and we can always change things later.

And other than those five things, I actually can carry little over from one novel to the next, one poem to the next, one picture book to the next, one nonfiction book to the next. Each book has its own problems, own peculiarities, own mishaps. I guess the important message I have for any of you about to embark on a revision–even if it’s the second or twenty-second round–is try to love your book as if you are meeting it for the very first time. And for the last.

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