This morning I wrote the last words of CHICKEN SHACK, finishing the book in almost exactly one year. After getting up to pee and grab a cookie, I sat back down and began the revision process.
My agent, Taryn, has read the first half of the book and sent me notes to consider during revision. My books tend to need a lot more revision in the first half of the novel because I tend to wander a bit and fumble around for a plot. Once I find the story and kick it into the action, there tends to be a lot less to do in the second half, and Taryn’s notes reflect that. She had made many, many comments in the first few chapters of the book, and they become less frequent as the book moves along. By chapter 13, the last chapter that Taryn has read, it would seem that she’s hooked and pleased with where the book is going, but she admits that it was a struggle at times to get there.
So now I begin to revise, which is usually a quick and painful process for me. As I read through Taryn’s notes and consider her suggestions, along with ideas of my own, I engage in an inner dialogue with her. And while I love her dearly and value her opinion a great deal, the imaginary Taryn who speaks to me through her notes becomes someone who I despise at times. He comments become stinging barbs and tiny acts of cruelty, and I latch onto her occasional compliments like life preservers.
This time, I’ve decided to use Twitter to record some of this inner dialogue,in hopes that it will at least make this process more entertaining. If you’d like to follow the running commentary, which should persist for a week, you can follow me at twitter.com/matthewdicks or just follow the hash tag #Taryndialogue.
After an afternoon and evening of work, here is what I have tweeted so far:
Taryn comments that one of my favorite paragraphs in chapter one is "GOOD STUFF!!!" She's such a smart agent and editor.
Taryn notes that snowmen's eyes are traditionally made from coal. Not buttons. Nice catch.
My agent hates my chapter 2. She has ideas for improvement but I suspect she'd like me to delete the whole thing. Not happy.
Oh dear... Taryn might be right. I hate re-writing even more than revising.
Fine. I'll re-write chapter 2 tonight. But I'm not happy about it. As my wife would say, Taryn is now "on my list."
Scrolled back to Taryn's "GOOD STUFF!!!" comment in chapter one to remind myself that I don't completely suck.
Just spent an hour reading books to my 15-month old. girl And none of them had a chapter 2 . So jealous of Sandra Boynton.
Ironically, chapter 2 had a section that deals with handling criticism without falling apart. Damn you, irony.
Okay, Taryn. I started the chapter off in the way you advised. And it's a lot better, I think. Until you tell me it's not.
Taryn crossed out two of my favorite lines from the material I salvaged from chapter 2. I'm really not liking her right now.
I mean, I know she's usually right, but I like these lines. I know why she doesn't like them and why I shouldn't, but I do.
I know. I'll keep one but kill the other. But I like them both...
I know I'm not in fifth grade, but I wish Taryn would follow my "two compliments for every one criticism" class rule.
I hope I'm not making my agent sound rotten. She's a truly amazing person and my hero. I just kind of hate her right now.
Okay, chapter 2 officially re-written. And yes, it's much better. Still, her comments stung. I'm going to bed mad.