Monday, March 19, 2012

Revising is Only the Beginning by Peter Salomon

On Thursday January 5, 2012 I emailed the ‘final’ revisions of my debut novel to my Editor at Flux (and by ‘final’ I mean that the file I emailed will be transformed into the ARC and so there are only a small number of revisions left between now and the scheduled date of publication in Sept. 2012). Two years ago this month I signed with my agent for this book. Two years before that I started writing what would become HENRY FRANKS.

Almost five years (give or take) from concept to publication. It took less than three months to write the first draft. I’ve been editing ever since.

There are numerous books to help edit and revise, and beta readers to tell you what works and what doesn’t, but nothing changes one simple fact: if you don’t edit, it’ll never be as good as it could be. Editing changes everything. Every line, every word of HENRY FRANKS (even the title) has gone through revisions. And you know what? It was fun. It was worth every moment.

So, you’ve finished the first draft…now what? Well, first of all, a small celebration is in order. If I had to guess I’d say most people have, at one point or another, thought ‘I’d like to write a book’ (or something to that effect). Far fewer of them started and even fewer finished. You accomplished something, even if no one knows about it. Even if, like most first drafts, it’s in need of serious work. You finished! Celebrate.

Ok, time for the fun part (otherwise known as ‘work’). Always remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel (and sometimes, yes, it’s a train, but every so often the train is actually going your way). Don’t give up because you don’t think it’s worth it or you don’t believe you’ll ever finish.

I long ago lost track of how many versions of HENRY FRANK I went through to get it to where it is now. But every time I finished a revision the book was so much better than the last revision. And I know, deep down in the secret places of my heart, that once I’m holding the book in my hand, flipping the pages and marveling at the reality of my debut novel, I know that I’ll find something more I could have should have might have changed. Just a little. Maybe a missing word. Or an extra word. Or something that I wish I had revised.

Just one more time.

Because, trust me, revising will be the best thing that ever happened to that finished first draft of yours. And it will also be the best thing that ever happened to the second draft.  And one day, before you know it, you’ll think to yourself ‘it’s time to query’ and because of all the time you’ve spent revising and learning to edit and editing again that query will be an extension of the manuscript, rich with your voice and the hook of it will land an agent.

And guess what happens then? You guessed it, more revising. More editing. Until one day your agent will let you know that they believe it’s time to submit to publishing houses. And one day, before you know it, your phone will ring and you’ll hear nothing your agent says beyond the word ‘sold!’

And, I almost hate to say it, but guess what happens then?

And it will all be fun. It will all be worth it. Every single moment of it. Because when you stand there flipping through the pages of your debut novel, marveling at the reality of your sweetest dream come true, you’ll find something you could have should have might have changed.

Just one more time.

Peter Adam Salomon graduated Emory University in Atlanta, GA with a BA in Theater and Film Studies in 1989. He has served on the Executive Committee of the Boston and New Orleans chapters of Mensa as the Editor of their monthly newsletters and was also a Judge for the 2006 Savannah Children’s Book Festival Young Writer’s Contest. He is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Horror Writers Association and The Authors Guild and is represented by the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. His debut novel, HENRY FRANKS, will be published by Flux in September 2012.

Peter Adam Salomon lives in New Orleans with his wife Anna and their three sons: André Logan, Joshua Kyle and Adin Jeremy.

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