Thursday, March 29, 2012

Nine months

"In working on a poem, I love to revise.  Lots of younger poets don't enjoy this, but in the process of revision I discover things." - Rita Dove

Recently I mentioned that the idea that indie-pubbed authors could get their stuff to the market faster than trad-pubbed authors was a myth.  At least, it is when evidence from my own work is considered.  My first book took 9 months to get to the market, and 11 months to get there in its current shape, and the second book will have taken 11 when I finally have it done.  So, why so long?

The biggest part of that time, really, is revision.  It's funny; somebody responded to my comment in a different forum by saying that after writing and revisions, it only took him five months to get to published.  That, though, adds up to more time than it took me, not less.  I'm putting revisions into the time-to-market, and he's not.  And trust me, revisioning takes a long time. 

Let me get more specific. In general, I wait several days between writing "The End" the first time and picking it back up to revise.  That wait is purposeful.  It's like back in college, the few times I actually revised a paper I'd written, when I'd wait 24 hours before beginning the rework.  My brain needs the temporal distance from the first writing in order to "forget" what's there, so that I don't read right over an error thinking about what should have been there. 

In terms of specifics--I finished Cataclysm on March 20, 2011.  I created the file Cataclysm v2 on March 24, 2011, in order to preserve some of the what I was changing.  Then, while I was writing Ascension, I was also slowly going back through Cata v2, finishing that revision nearly three weeks later on April 7.  Then--I started over.  I created Cataclysm v3 on April 9 and finally finished that significant revision on June 1 (but keep in mind that I was still writing Ascension during that time).  June 1, I created Cataclysm v4 and finished that revision just after the Independence Day holiday on July 5. 

For a while, then, the timing was out of my hands.  I sent the manuscript over to the editor, who promised to get it back to me in a month.  She actually returned it faster than that, on July 30.  That day, Cataclysm v5 was born, and it took me till September 11 to finish that major revision and shuffle.  Whew.

Between then and October 2, I worked on Cataclysm v6.  Then I went off to the James River Writers Conference.  Immediately after the conference, on October 7, I rushed back home with fresh ideas and began work on Cataclysm v7, which was finally done on October 23.  That was when the publisher fiasco began, and Cataclysm was finally published about a month after.  The book was unpublished a bit over a month after that, and then republished about a month after that (because it took me a while to figure out how to use GIMP to do a book cover, honestly). 

What's inside has come a long way, too.  It's gone from 68,000 words to nearly 93,000.  Two scenes were removed entirely.  One was shrunk and moved from the beginning to the middle of the book.  Several were added.  The scene at the college was revised in a big way, and the cataclysm scene was heightened greatly. 

In short, the book I wrote "The End" in last March is nowhere near the book that I published in February. 

Hope that clears up the timing a bit! 


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