Revising Madness


Not that I’m bragging or anything, but I just finished penning my latest novel. No biggie. I mean, birthing it only took four years of labor, 76 thousand words, and writing my way through some deeply un-fun times. You know, whatevs.

Now, I’m clawing and scratching my way through the first major revision, a labor of love that’s 80% labor and 20% love. How do I keep myself motivated? In part by imagining what strangers would think of lil ol’, mild-mannered Elle while she’s revising. All those future commands for future me -- like [say something smart about cars] or [find complementary martial arts] or [are there porpoises off the Florida coast?]* -- have morphed into current dictates for present-tense me. I am no longer Elle the writer but Elle the intrepid factfinder who hunts obscure information I would otherwise never, ever think to know.

What I will probably look like
with my new belt.
On a side note, and after just having completed two hours of research into martial arts types, I’m pretty sure I deserve a black belt of my own. (Of course, I mentioned “krav maga” to my Jewish spouse and discovered I’d been mispronouncing it, so maybe just a brown belt.)

Preying mantis kung fu? Totally a thing.

My latest novel focuses heavily on animals. (I’ll wait while you gasp and release the clutch on your pearls.) Given that, I have spent a ridiculous amount of time reading about orcas, gobbling YouTube videos on eagles, and digging into the special powers of the common house mouse. Did you know they use ultrasound? Did you?

You’re welcome.

Maybe my best time comes from knowing how freaky I look as I perform wild actions from the safety of my living room. Picture me rocking my head back and forth, searching for the perfect words to capture the movement, or laughing throatily over and over while I discern harmonic resonance or whatever I’m doing. The other day, my sister, who lives with me, walked into the living room to find me petting invisible air currents. I wish I could say she shrugged and ignored me (“That wild and wacky Elle!”), but truth told, she stared at me in horror until I dropped my hand self-consciously into my lap. She left the room without comment.
Didja know they're not whales at all? They're dolphins!

I’m about halfway through my first revision. After that, I have to revise a few more times, choose a title, write the back blurb and the hook, and fish for eager, or at least willing, publishers. Because, my friends, writing is only part of the sweaty, beautiful labor that goes into penning a novel.

In the meantime, I’ll be researching myths of ghostly Black dogs and the shape of crocodile teeth.** Because I’m an author, baby!


* There aren’t.
** Conical

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