Considering that I've been revising Knife off and on for the last fourteen years, you would think that these changes would not be that significant -- and ah ha ha ha ha ha ha you would be so wrong. Not that my editor requested massive sweeping alterations, I hasten to add; she just asked me to tighten up the timeline, make the characters 3-4 years younger and adjust their behavior and dialogue accordingly, and clear up a few overcomplicated or poorly explained bits of the plot. If you look at the manuscript, her scribbled notes occur maybe every 10 pages on the average.
My scribbled notes, however, appear on nearly every page. Whole scenes -- even chapters -- are stroked out, or bracketed with comments like "Rewrite all these diary entries in first person". But even those are minor compared to the changes I actually ended up making, once I sat down to work through the book from beginning to end. Why? Not because I am a masochist (though I wouldn't blame you for thinking so) but because I could see, once my editor's remarks had started me thinking, how much better the book could be -- and how to make it so.
So when you keep in mind that I wasn't tweaking and rearranging so much as rewriting about 2/3rds of the book, I'm pretty thrilled with my progress -- two chapters a week, every week, from December until now. (Next Post: why buying a cheap laptop with no Internet capability was the best writing-related purchase I ever made.)
And now I'm almost finished the last chapter -- I think. There may be a short Epilogue, if I feel like there still needs to be one. But the bulk of the work is done. And for the many of you on my f-list who have read this book in various drafts -- I think that when you get the chance to see it in hard copy, you'll be surprised (and I hope pleased) with how different it is, despite the main plot being essentially the same. And for the first time, I can look at this book and feel confident that yes, it really is there -- and that I'm proud of it.
Of course, having said that, I know what's going to happen with the next set of revisions; my editor will be forced to pry the manuscript out of my hands because I want to keep fiddling with it forever, and even as it goes to copyediting I'll be running after her moaning, "But wait! I just thought of how to do X and Y so much better!"
* For those who never tire of hearing how slow publishing is, I'll mention that the book was bought in mid-July, and that the contracts were signed in September. So yes, almost six months just to get those revisions -- but in my editor's defense, she had a lot of high-priority projects on the go, plus at the time my book wasn't scheduled until 2010.