When I talk to groups of kids, which I so so love to do, I often show them printed-out drafts of my work, so they can see how many changes, additions and deletions I make. I tell them how I revise again and again. Of course I mean this to be encouraging–look, no one’s perfect, at least not the first time!–but often I’m met with looks of, if not downright horror, at least mild distaste. No child I’ve ever met shares my enthusiasm for revision. Maybe that’s partly because they have so many ideas, ideas to spare, oceans of ideas. If one doesn’t turn out so great, oh well. Onto the next!
It can be maddening work, especially in the last, this-is-it phase. You’ve got a character sitting at a desk–does she chew her pen, or chew on her pen? Another character has a broken arm–can you just say she gave Mo a hug? Or do you need to specify a one-armed hug? And that moon–oops. Here it’s full, and a week later it’s a half moon–what solar system are you living in?
And at some point, it gets scary. Because once you and your editor say, Done, off the book sails. A home-made paper boat, your thumb-prints all over it.
That’s where I am right now with MO WREN, LOST AND FOUND. Just about ready to let go but…hmm. Should I say ten years or decade? And…