Everything changes. Nothing remains without change.
Change is inevitable—except from a vending machine.
My husband decided that today was a good day to replace one of the bathroom sinks. He's been accumulating stuff he would need (new sink and countertop, new faucets, new pipe fittings, caulk, etc.) and he was ready.
Four trips to the hardware store later…the new sink is in place and looks great, but now we've discovered that the perfectly good cabinet that was already in place is not exactly straight, nor are the walls exactly straight either, requiring some jigging around and further caulking of the new sink. And the water’s still turned off as Dear Hubby works out the puzzle of the old tube thingers vs. the new tube thingers under the sink. Clearly I don’t know what all the plumbing fittings are, but he does, he's good and experienced and is diligently working away at what is basically a boggling mystery to me. I'm grateful to have the sort of Hubby who can fix anything. It does come in handy sometimes.
I very helpfully told him that the beginning of a Mercury retrograde was probably not the best day to begin this little project…but he’s not convinced that a distantly rotating planet can cause multiple trips to the hardware store. Although he still maintains that it's the fact that nothing in our house seems to have been built to universal size, he is closer to believing in rascal Mercury's role than he was before. (For you Mercury-retrograde aficionados, replacing a sink is probably covered under the Mercury retrograde warrant. Most astrologers will say that any redo project, anything where the activity verb begins with RE- can be helped by retrograde energy. It's brand new ideas and projects that might want to wait until things go direct). Anyway, when this is finally done we’ll have a fabulous new bathroom sink with a beautiful granite-like countertop and brushed nickel faucets.
But it won’t end there. Now I want to paint the cabinet, which is perfectly nice but now looks dingy; and I want to slap a fresh coat of paint on the walls, and add new towel racks and a new shower curtain…rugs, too…maybe a curtain….and so it goes.
Nothing is ever simple, is it. One change leads to another and another. The domino theory works overtime where revising is concerned. Whether you’re changing a bathroom sink or redoing another part of the house, or whether you're making changes to a painting, a piece of knitting, a drawing, a casserole, a cake, a poem, a blog or a book… if we’re creating something, we’re very likely going to revise some of it before it’s done.
Just now I'm in the midst of revising a manuscript … and the agreed-upon changes are inevitably going to lead to some unexpected tweaks. My editor's suggestions will make the book tighter and stronger, and while I waited to hear from her, I did some revising on my own. So the manuscript will get a bit of a shakedown. Several trips to the hardware store, as it were, some new bits, some replaced bits and some touch ups.
A little revision, or a lot, is often necessary with a book, and a good thing, too. It's a part of the natural progression in the creation of a novel, from the first page as it's initially written until the final version is sent in, and revision after an editor has seen it is commonly part of the production process too. I’ve written books that needed just a little sweep through, tweaks here and there, by the time the editor saw the work; and I’ve written a few books that needed deeper changes, switching around of events, tightening loose ends, toughening up characters.I've even changed character names at this stage, and that one global tweak can have an amazing effect on a character!
Usually the book the reader sees is not the same as the first manuscript sent to the editor. Books rarely emerge full spring from the writer’s mind like Athena leaping from Zeus’s brow. Athena may leap, but she might need a change of sandals or gown, or she may be too pale and in need of some energy…she may even be missing bits that will need to be attached. The writing experience certainly has moments where creativity floods delightfully through, though more often (especially somewhere in the middle of the writing process) it’s a trickle. And once the manuscript is done, the painstaking process of revising, revisioning, refurbishing, rethinking and refinishing begins.
Like the bathroom sink or the process of painting a room and changing the furniture around, revising a book follows a similar pattern. One small change here can lead to a shift there, and a slight shift there can create a need to add or delete something elsewhere. Sometimes the entire book is in a sort of fluid state when just about anything can ripple and change—nothing is independent from the whole, and a little stream of dialogue or description or character motivation can effect a change chapters away from that place.
So the book that I sent to the editor on the first round will not be quite the same book that she sees on the second round. And it will continue to change a bit, here and there during the copyedit and even the galley proofs. If a reader were to see the original manuscript and then the finished book, there would be noticeable differences here and there.
Good thing it’s a retrograde — I’ll be applying all those “re” words to this book. And I’m looking forward to the chance to revise, to rethink and change what I’ve done. I’m the sort who will make changes until the last second … I've had editors who have virtually pried the red pen out of my fingers….
The bathroom sink has been finally revised, er, redone, while I’ve been writing this blog. Water’s back on, and I’ve got stuff to put away, and paint samples to look at!
To change and to change for the better are two different things. — German proverb
I love a good change now and then, thrive on it. If nothing else has shifted in my life I'll move the furniture around Just Because. Many of my friends and family are just the opposite, and now and then I long for that ability to accept a stable environment… what about you? Are you the sort that has to have change around you, or do you thrive on maintaining status quo in all things?