Generation Space: 5 Thoughts on Final Revision

Generation Space: A Love Story is due on May 2 to Stillhouse Press so that the copyeditor there can have at it. So this month, we’re deep into overall and targeted editing, looking for redundancies and gaps, tinkering with voice and detail. This isn’t the first overhaul, as you can see in this photo of Anna’s previous desk, really a table–and the floor.

DeskWork

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” ~ Mark Twain

Oft-quoted and still relevant. Indeed, we have reconsidered and changed words, phrases. It’s a struggle to make an approximation tangible. It’s easy to get mixed up, to forget whether we’ve written something similar elsewhere. We’re still finding places we left our or accidentally deleted an extra word–bug–in a previous revision.

“Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.” ~ Annie Dillard

There are still moments, details, and thoughts we’re adding because the parts make the whole, and we can see the whole now. Having completed the manuscript, we’re able to lay our thoughts and feelings on the page in another way and to see where we held back and need to let the reader in.

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.” ~ George Orwell

Yes, this stage of work on the manuscript is physically exhausting. But it’s not horrible, as if the course of the illness is relatively well understood, we’re well through most of it, and the treatment shows great promise.

“If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.” ~ Virginia Woolf

That’s part and parcel to Generation Space, which has become a personal and cultural memoir. We’ve surprised ourselves by revealing ourselves.

“When you reach a place where you feel blocked, lower your standards and keep on going. There is no possible way to do permanent damage to a piece of writing. You cannot ruin it. You can only make it a little better a little at a time.” ~ Richard Bausch

Revising and editing risk damaging the manuscript, but error is always the risk of striving to do better each time. Maybe every book represents the ruins left by the process of writing.

Notebooks

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