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Writing the first draft of my novel was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done. Pure adrenaline. Living in a fantasy-land of my own making. Turning off (almost) my inner editor and just letting the writing flow. It was fantastic.

But revision. Revision belongs as a punishment in one of the nine circles of hell. I’m sure Dante just forgot to mention it; somewhere between flames burning the feet, being stuck forever in a block of ice, being torn apart by demons, and being eaten by Satan, he meant to include a part where an author was forced to revise a piece, over and over, for eternity. He probably just forgot it during one of his own rounds of revision. Or maybe as a writer himself he thought his own personal hell wasn’t worthy of inclusion. I can’t say I know what was going through Dante’s mind, but I’m pretty sure he was in revision hell at some point. From what I hear, every writer goes through it. That doesn’t make it any easier.

dante's inferno. revising.

dante’s inferno. revising.

Now don’t get me wrong – I’d still rather be doing this than anything else. But revision is really, really, really hard.

I loved my book when I finished writing it. But when I read through it, I realized it had a long way to go. I spent a few days trying to figure out what it was missing. I had an epiphany. I started rearranging and adding new scenes. But then the things I’d moved or added meant that things before and after needed to change. I tried to change those things, but that just caused even more ripples… Soon, I was lost.

Hell, I am lost. And now I hate my novel. I don’t even like what I’ve added. I see all it’s flaws and imperfections and I compare it to fully-polished, published books and soon I’m hopeless. In addition to figuring out what the story even is, I need to work on the characters. I need to add more backstory and clarify motivation and fix dialogue and add a boatload of description. And then, of course, there’s the actual writing to work on. Fixing awkward sentences, making the paragraphs flow, finding the right words, polishing, polishing, polishing.

It all seems like an impossible amount of work.

So I’m going to get a second draft done – somehow – and then I’m going to step away from it for a few weeks. Every writing book I read says to do that. I guess I should take their advice. Because right now flames burning my feet seems like an upgrade. And that can’t be a good sign.

Anyone been through this before? Any advice on revision?