I've just finished my revisions for my agent! And I'm exhausted. Of course, I still have do some surface revising, to make sure everything makes sense and take care of any logistical errors (and there's always a few), read every one of those 130,000 words out loud to find spelling/grammatical errors, send it to my beta readers, take care of their critiques...
Sigh. Even more exhausted now. I really need to train myself to like coffee.
Quite honestly, though, I don't mind doing revisions. It's amazing how much things can change between one revision and the next. There are at least three characters who played large roles in my first draft who don't even appear in this last revision, and conversely, at least three characters who play large roles in this draft who didn't appear at all during that first draft.
This was my eleventh rewrite. Yes, rewrite, not revision. Usually, I don't create a new document labeled "Revision X" unless there is a change I want to make to my manuscript that's radical enough to require me to start over from a blank screen. Which isn't to say that I don't reference it to past revisions, or copy and paste parts that still work. For whatever reason, I've always thought that it's less work to start with a clean slate than to try to comb through an old revision.
Revising takes guts. That was something I struggled with tremendously at first (and still do), because I would grow so attached to certain scenes that I would force them into the new version, even though they didn't flow well with the rest of the novel. As a writer, I think one of the most difficult and necessary skills to have is trusting yourself to write things that are even better than the things you cut. Why? Because that speck or ocean of pride exists in all of us, and it's human nature to want other people to see the beautiful things we've written. As Ray Bradbury once said, "You have to trust in [that] secret self as a writer, or you shouldn't be doing it."
So if you're wavering over a line, or a scene, or the entire second half of your manuscript, don't be afraid to put it aside and open a fresh document. You will write something just as wonderful, or even better. And besides, you'll have no choice but to do it anyway, seeing as most agents and editors require it nowadays.
Now. I think I'm going to make someone drive me out to Dairy Queen and get me a Blizzard. I feel like I've deserved one :)
And then I'm going to go sit back down at my desk, do any other necessary revisions and read throughs, and hopefully send it to my agent by the end of next week. And then I will cross every appendage I have as she...(cue dramatic music)...starts shopping my project to publishers!