Ah. So THAT’S what revision means.

Well, revision of the first draft of To Drown in Sand is properly underway. While my theme editor, the amazing Chad Horton, performs his surgery, I’m working through each scene with surprise and a sense of wonder.

After following Mr. King’s advice, and not touching or looking at the manuscript since about September (alright, I’m fibbing. I may have tweaked and toggled bits here and there, but nothing committed. I actually dug pretty deeply into the sequel), I pulled out my copy of the book and my red pen, took a deep breath, and flipped open the last scene. I like to rewrite backwards, apparently.

I admit to thinking that the manuscript actually wouldn’t need much.

Which is great. Because, in this case, I’m glad I was wrong.

I didn’t really know what revision was. But after researching it thoroughly, and discovering how critical it is to the process, I’m getting genuinely excited when I start to carve into a new scene.


Because every page I find myself slicing through with my red scalpel tells me that I’m doing this right. The real way. Necessity for rewrite means it can be improved. And improved means becoming a better writer. And that’s very redeeming.

Observe; page 237 of the manuscript. All my pages looked like this at first, and in my blissful naiveté, I thought most of them would remain so.

page 237 before


Same page, after surgery:

page 237 (2)

I am still a little shocked at the amount of rewrite required for each page.

And thrilled.

Same for page 240:

page 240 before

Annnd after:

page 240 after

A lot of pages are so covered in red scars now that they are barely recognizable:

page 316 unrecognizable

And there have been many surgical murdering of darlings. Ouch.

murdered darlings

Rather than seeing my edit notes as an indicator of  how much work there remains to do, or how long the total writing will take (which could be a real drag), I’m looking at clear evidence, in crimson no less, of my writing getting better. Every note is like a gram of writing knowledge in ink; things that I’ve learned since finishing the first draft are adding up in pounds.

The red is FAR more important that the 300+ pages of crisp, black, Courier New.

Like any scar, they are signs of growth and change.

Looking back, my fear came from the same place most of ours do: the unknown. But I really am overjoyed to find myself enjoying this part of the process. It’s exciting. It gives me a chance to sand the edges smoother, and insert slices of art and thought that I know can work better than the version I started months ago.

If there’s a sequel, one can wedge in themes that you know will be incorporated later that weren’t in your head when you first started.

And I’m surprised by how quickly it goes. It’s not really arduous, if you drink lots of coffee, take breaks, and don’t think about things like missed workouts and clocks ticking on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and other waiting markets that might miss your genius if you don’t hurry up. I think that’s all very silly.


Time creates quality.

So, with my reasonable self-imposed deadline in mind (upload date 3rd week of October, then tests on the platforms, then announce the release on POD and eBook November 2013), I’ll be taking mine.

It’s really too much fun not to.

© 2013 B.C. Laybolt


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8 responses to “Ah. So THAT’S what revision means.

  1. Allen Watson

    Thanks for sharing. I honestly think this is something that so many self-published authors don’t do. I’ve written about it over on my blog, but I think many people think their work is good enough first time through to publish. Thanks again!

    • After about 2 years of reviewing Indy E-Pubbed titles on most of the different platforms, and a massive number of writing blogs, that was one theme that stood out: treat your work professionally, and rewrite.
      Writers like Neil Gaiman, J.A. Konrath, Kirsten Lamb, Holly Lisle, and a host of others make that point pretty clearly.
      Once I got over my concern that I didn’t know how (with some gentle prodding by a few of my Betas), I started to love that part of the writing process. Initial lessons are often the most poignant, I guess.
      Thanks for reading!

  2. I love your illustrations. Thanks for sharing this, and I agree with ^Allen’s comment that too many self-publishing authors don’t revise their work before publishing. Personally, I think it’s the most fun part of writing.

    • Thanks! I’m especially jazzed about revisiting characters I thought I was finished with, and giving them small moments that add depth to them later. That’s also an exciting part of the process for me to play with. I DREADED the idea of revision when I first started out, but I was too busy writing to worry about it. By the time the first draft was finished, I really came to appreciate why revision is such a key to improvement.

  3. looks like my manuscript 🙂 I love this part, I too see it as proof of how much sharper I’m getting.

  4. Reblogged this on CKBooks Publishing and commented:
    I really enjoy the revision process, too. I hope you to as well. It is very necessary in the whole book production process. Don’t forget, there will be more revision once you give it to others to read.

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