My first book has gone through 4 rounds of revisions (so far). Round 1, the revision after the shitty first draft. Then Round 2, which features major changes done with my editor Kate Angelella (the biggest change there was shifting the whole story from past to present tense). Then Round 3, the stretch of indecisiveness whilst querying, until my agent Caitie Flum plucked me from the Twitterverse on the night of #DVPit.
This is Round 4. I spent a total of twenty-one days (not consecutively, because I have a day job, books to read, ukuleles to play, and video games to finish) wallowing in Round 4, and like every round, this one had its own challenges. The biggest–cutting down on word count. Killing your darlings is hard, especially when you have scenes that you feel need to be in the story to progress. Luckily, this is the part where things get a little less lone wolf-y and a bit more of a party. Earlier on, Caitie told me that after I finish with my revisions (based on notes from her edit letter), I should pass the manuscript along to someone who’s never read it or to my writing critique crew before handing it back to her. I did both, sharing it with Greg, a fellow #TeamCaitie writer, Jacques, one of the first people who’s ever read my book, and Lych, the last person to ever read it.
I logged my progress on my 2017 Starbucks planner, because it’s really pretty. Here, I type it down to share with you how I executed the first step in proceeding with my career as an agented author.
DAY #0: Waking to the Edit Letter
The first thing I do when I wake up is check my phone–and lo! There it is at last! My edit letter from Caitie. She says my manuscript is in good shape (wheee!) and that there aren’t a lot of issues that need rewrites (huzzaahh!).
I love how encouraging Caitie is. And while there are writers out there who say that you need to take time to digest the edit letter, I don’t feel like I need to spend days thinking things through. I think I’m ready to get things rolling tomorrow.
DAY #1: Apple Slices
I edited the first two chapters today, and it feels great! Rewarding self with apple slices!
DAY #2: Played the Ukulele
Only edited one chapter today. Got distracted by the ukulele.
DAY #3: A Little More Ukulele
Edited three chapters! Okay, this time I deserve a bit of ukulele time.
DAY #4: The Challenge Sinks in
Revisions are tiring, and I think they’re even more tiring after you’ve read the damn manuscript a thousand times. I need to push extra hard this time, because these revision suggestions from Caitie are CHALLENGING. She asked to reword or rephrase a few lines, but my brain is kind of malfunctioning.
DAY #5: I Think I Should Read Another Book
Worked on seven chapters today, and now I’m more than halfway through the manuscript! And I would totally do more revisions, but I think my brain needs to read a different story. It’s time to finish reading We Are the Ants, get snuggly in bed, and sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.
DAY #6: Ashes of the Wake is Such a Good Record
I’m holing myself up in my room today. There’s nothing like writing/revising to the music of Lamb Of God. How do I even write better with metal music playing in the background? I’m a shark! Resolution is playing now and “Straight for the Sun” is giving me 2014 feelings–goddammit, Chris Adler! The drum solo that cuts into “Desolation!” I’m crying! I’m going to take a quick break and draw a friend I met in London.
DAY #7: Edited Until Words on the Screen Became 3D
FIVE CHAPTERS. I edited five long chapters today and I think my eyes are popping out. Or the words are popping out of the screen. I can’t really tell anymore. I executed some MAJOR revisions all thanks to one question Caitie asked. The scene feels more complete now! But I need to rest my eyes, so I can continue to binge on Breaking Bad later.
DAY #8: First Revision at the Office
I promised I wouldn’t work on my manuscript at the office. But it’s a slow day, and working on revisions sounds a lot more productive than staring blankly at my computer. Two chapters down and I’m 85.7% done!
DAY #9: I’m Done?! Lolz, Nope.
Okay, that final boss battle in Dishonored 2 was tricky! I’ve been playing Low Chaos all this time, so how the hell am I supposed to make six doppelgängers go bye-bye?! I’m experiencing the same frustration with this last stretch on my manuscript. But like when I had the PS4 controller in my hands, I thought things through and found a new angle. Just like that, I had a better version of my manuscript. Sending this off now to my beta readers!
DAY #10: Back in Singapore, Where the First Draft was Completed
I took a short break from my manuscript, letting my beta readers do their thing. Two of them got back to me with their notes yesterday, and I’ve since included some of their suggestions for revision. Oh, and by the way, Periphery–totally worth flying out to Singapore for! Mainly because they’re like big brothers to me, especially Mark. Before they kicked off with soundcheck last night, Mark and I had a bit of catching up to do, and I told him about my book and signing with Caitie. Eventually, I had to let him get back to work, but after the show, he told me some things that powered up my drive to never give up on the dream (Mark, if you’re reading this, you have no idea how much that meant to me. And I was serious when I told you to get some rest). Oh, and side note, I give a bit of a shout out to Periphery in my book, so spot that if you’re a fellow Peripheral.
TRIVIA: On 25 Dec 2014, I completed the first draft of this manuscript here in Singapore. It’s kind of fun how I’m back here today, super at it, and close to working on the final revision.
DAY #11: Thank the Stars for Modern-Day High School Teachers
I haven’t been to high school in 10 years, and naturally, many changes have been added to the system. Thanks to my beta reader Greg and his tips about modern-day high school, I made some maaaaajor revisions today. I also ate a whole mango at my desk and it made me realize that people who have never tried Philippine mangoes are missing half their lives.
DAY #12: Breakfast, please?
I’m so hungry. But I had a pleasant chat with Caitie about revisions pitched by my beta readers. Got a lot of work to do this weekend!
Now reading: The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon
DAY #13: Killed a Full Chapter!
“Kill your darlings” they said, so I did. And it was actually pretty easy. So I killed a whole chapter and made several small revisions of random scenes.
DAY #14: Writing is Hard
It just is.
Now reading: History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
DAY #15: New Book Haul!
I got new books today to ease my brain and feed it fresh stories: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, and Stranger Than Fanfiction by Chris Colfer. Self-care is important when in revisions mode.
DAY #16: Time to Revisit Beta Reader Notes and The Writer’s Journey
I got stuck. But thanks to the notes from my beta readers, I’m back at it! Also brought out Christopher Volger’s The Writer’s Journey. This book is definitely one of the best (if not the best) guides for writers.
Today, I discovered how easy it is to kill your darlings. I cut out so many unnecessary scenes. I’m on FIRE.
DAY #17: Did Some Editing, But Not Enough
Again, writing is haaaarrddd.
DAY #18: Crunch time!
Our editor-in-chief let me take the week off work BECAUSE I DIDN’T REALIZE HOW CLOSE TO THE DEADLINE I AM. I have 6 days to finish this! YIKES. I’m dedicating the day to revisions, I’m gonna kill off some minor characters. But doing only this the entire day is hard and tiring. Most especially since I’ve read this manuscript a billion times and still find things to edit.
I revised 10 chapters today. And I am pooped.
DAY #19: Loner Hangs at Refinery, Greenhills
Working from my brother’s restaurant today, because there’s The Camerawalls concert tonight, and I’m covering it. I’m getting shit done! WOOP!!! But not enough. I can do this! FIIIIGHTING!
DAY #20: Fancy Hotel Hangs
Needed another change of scenery, so I joined Sho at UDD’s Shangri-La Makati gig. But I’m staying in the holding room where there is food! And I can’t work until everyone leaves the room.
It’s cold. I wanna nap. I have mixed feelings for the new Weezer song. But I’m almost done!
DAY #21: I’M DOOOOONE (KIND OF!!!!)
Thaaaaaat’s it, folks! I’m done with revisions. But Caitie is making me do this little “game” to cut down on word count. Just 1,000 words. And from here, I’ll submit it back to her and finally get some sleep.