Monday, May 28, 2012

The Road to Revision Hell is Paved with...OBSESSION!

Hi, my name’s Melissa, and I sold the first book I ever wrote.

Before you curse my name and draw a twirly moustache beneath my nose, let me tell you, it didn’t happen overnight. Or over a hundred nights. Or even six hundred. I rewrote ALIENATED five times before it sold. Notice I didn’t say ‘revised.’ No, sir. I wrote that mofo again and again and again. If we’re being honest, I was a tad obsessed. Minus the tad.

I don’t think I’m alone, either. I’ve always suspected that most writers have obsessive tendencies. Why else would we beat our heads against the keyboard every single day in pursuit of a dream that might never come to fruition? Why else would we choose to spend our free time in the company of imaginary friends instead of real-life human beings? Why else would we query agents and editors, then refresh our gmail accounts hundreds of times per day awaiting their response? (Not that I’ve ever done that. *cough, cough*)

Clearly, we’re a quirky breed.

But this can be a good thing! Let’s face it—revising and rewriting is painful stuff. A few times, I’ve gone to bed at an indecent hour feeling grey matter leaking from my ears. If it weren’t for my borderline-unhealthy attachment to my characters, what would keep me moving forward? Certainly not self-discipline, not from a gal who plows through a bag of Peppermint Patties each week. No, I NEED my obsession. It’s like a double-shot espresso for my soul, propelling me onward.

Who’s with me? How many of you are driven by something that’s not entirely healthy? Does obsession compel you to persevere through countless revisions?

Melissa Landers is the author of ALIENATED, a seriously foreign exchange, coming in 2013 from Disney Hyperion. You can learn more about Melissa on her website, and she’d love for you to add ALIENATED to your Goodreads shelf! Additionally, Melissa write contemporary romance for adults under the name Macy Beckett.


  1. Hi Melissa,
    I was just telling my husband that I'm *so* glad I'm not working on a revision this weekend, because we both know I wouldn't be enjoying all the fun holiday frivolity if I had even one chapter that needed revising!
    Yes, I obsess and fixate and question every word, until I think my head might explode. Almost every rewrite I've done in the last year has left me exclaiming in desperation, "I don't think I can do this again!" And yet, I do it again and again.
    Why? Because I'm a writer. ;o)

  2. LOL, Lorie, I thought of you when I drafted this post. It's nice to know I'm not alone!

  3. I rewrote my first novel 3 or 4 times. My recent release, Time's Enemy, was rewritten at least that many times, because I was figuring out my process while I drafted it. Then I found Holly Lisle's How to Revise Your Novel course, and I don't do that anymore! :)

  4. OMG, yes! I've rewritten the first and second manuscripts well beyond simple revisions before they were published. I know exactly what you mean, Melissa. It's proven to be a smart move because my editor's not asking for many changes.

    For my current project, I'm in what I call the pre-attack stage. I'm looking at an MS that I've written as an HQ Presents. I'm about to rewrite it into a dark paranormal...on the steamy side. :-) BWHAHAHAHA * hysterical laughter here*

  5. @Jennette: I don't do that anymore, either. ;) I'm still obsessive about my characters, but fortunately, I've figured out a system that works for me, and keeps me from substantial rewrites.

    @Gabriella: Bring on the steam! (Oh, wait, this is a YA blog, LOL!)

  6. Thanks for this post, Melissa! I do obsess over a manuscript until it's done, and then am more than happy to part ways with it for a while so I can love it again. I guess it's not a healthy relationship, is it?

  7. Elsie, maybe it's not healthy, but at least it's passionate. ;)

  8. This reminds me of Alice in Wonderland...we're all a little mad here. I think it takes a special kind of crazy to be a writer, but that's what makes it fun, right?

  9. That's right, Jess! We're a special kind of mad. The very best kind!

  10. "I didn’t say ‘revised.’ No, sir. I wrote that mofo again and again and again."

    ~dies~ Yes! I wholly admit to the OCD of getting the manuscript closer to "right." (I will also admit to peppermint patty weakness, but that's a different story). There are those nights when I'm angry at my body for not being able to stay awake to transcribe the *perfect* scene running through my head.

  11. Thanks for sharing, KAK! If only those luscious Peppermint Patties could keep us going all night.

  12. Melissa! Thanks for sharing! Your story is totally inspiring and no twirly moustache for you.