In spite of feeling physically horrible and emotionally stuffed-up, I have to say that looking over my editor's suggested revisions for Knife today has been a great kick in the mental pants. Over the last couple of hours I've experienced a cascade of new ideas, and I'm really excited now about the prospect of making them work. Some of them mean chopping out and/or replacing bits of the story which have been in place for literally fifteen years -- but the new ideas I've got are so much better, tighter, more economical and even more interesting* that it makes me wonder why on earth I didn't think of them before.
This is the best part of writing, for me -- not the initial getting-stuff-on-paper stage, but the discovery of how much better the story can be with a good revision. And since I have now revised Knife at least ten times, it's a good thing I can still find a spark of excitement in the thought of cutting old scenes and writing new ones.
Now ask me if I still feel that way in six weeks.
On a related note, you know how I was whining about not getting my revisions earlier? When I was lamenting to my mother about the courier mix-up, she said, "There must be a reason behind all this," and as much as the cliche made me want to grind my teeth at the time, I've come to believe she was right.
See, I had an insanely busy weekend, and if the revision package had come on Thursday or Friday as planned, it would have been just one more source of agonizing distraction. I had no time to work on the book, and there were a whole lot of other responsibilities and commitments I needed to deal with first.
Even this morning would have been too early. I was too full of worries about fixing the airline ticket problems and coping with my kids to concentrate. My agent called mid-morning, and when I told him about my courier woes he said, "Well, at least you have Catherine's revision letter to look at, even if you don't have her comments on the manuscript. ... Oh, you don't have it? Well then, I'll forward you a copy straight away." Which he did, but! -- this has never happened before, not with my agent, but for some Mysterious Reason that e-mail spent a few hours wandering around the sub-ether instead of showing up in my mailbox. So, again -- no revisions.
By the time I'd fed the kids lunch and put the youngest down for his nap, I was completely frazzled. And at that point I realized I just had to let go of the whole thing. I ended up praying, "Lord, You send the revision package when You think I'm ready, because the truth is I feel like crud right now and I know I'm not really prepared, so maybe it's a good thing after all that it's not here." And instead of peering out the window and checking my e-mail every two minutes, I sat my two oldest down with a Tintin cartoon and then spent the next hour and a half resting, reading, and praying. After which I felt much calmer...
...and just a few minutes after that, the package arrived.
Really, you'd almost think it was planned.
* In fact, at least one of them is making me grin with the anticipation of writing it. Just imagine the faery equivalent of Sydney Bristow stealing a Rambaldi artifact while her partner provides some kind of outrageous distraction, and you'll get the idea.