Bananagrams and Revision

If you’re not a writer, maybe you think this post isn’t for you, but I would argue that everyone revises. For writers, it happens on the page all the time, but for humans, we revise our plans and our lives every time we encounter change. Sometimes the change is self-inflicted. I revised what I thought my kids are capable of when our family traveled overseas for a year.

Yes, we took our three kids, including a six-year-old, up this skinny, treacherous path, climbing 1200 feet to the top of Waynu Picchu

They all made it!

Sometimes we have no control, and unforeseen circumstances force us to revise when Plan A doesn’t work out.

Impromptu “gourmet” picnic on the hotel floor

I revised my to-do lists and my pace when Rebeka came to live with us for a year to have surgeries on her clubbed feet. My life slowed down as we took time for her to learn how to walk on her turned-straight feet.

A death, a move, an accident, kids, winning the lottery, or an empty nest . . . they all require life revision. And for writers, revision also comes in the form of edits in our manuscripts. In the same week that my new book deal was announced . . .

I received my revision letter for the first of the two-book deal, THE MINOR MIRACLE. The manuscript a publisher buys often goes through a lot of editing before it gets published. For me, it’s usually easier  to revise than to face a blank page while drafting a new story. But not always.

As I dug into my editor’s twelve-page revision letter and comments in the manuscript itself, it felt a bit like a game of Bananagrams. For those unfamiliar with the game, everyone pulls letter tiles and makes their own crossword, and when someone uses all their tiles everyone has to pull another from the big pile in the middle and incorporate it. Sometimes it’s easy. You pull an “s” and make a word plural. But sometimes you pull a “j,” and to fit it into your perfect little puzzle you have to entirely mess it up and start over.

Some of my editor’s comments will require me to cut chapters, and then add new chapters. I’m needing to think deeply about theme and motivation. There is a trickle-down effect to edits like this that affect the entire manuscript, and so I take a deep breath and mess with my tiles. My tidy manuscript is messy again.

It is great practice for life, holding loosely to my puzzle so I can change and adapt when needed. In Bananagrams, when there are no more tiles left to draw and someone finishes their puzzle, they yell “Bananas!” I’m looking forward to the day I can send my manuscript back to my editor with all the pieces back in place, the story stronger, proud of how I was able to incorporate all those edits. It is a “Bananas!” moment.

Those writers out there know there’s a good chance I’ll be playing another round before it’s all through. I’ll be okay. I love games, revision, and most importantly, this story.

One Response to “Bananagrams and Revision”

  1. Donna Herschleb

    I enjoyed this letter — and playing Banana-grams with you! I am sure that the book will turn out great. I am looking forward to reading it. Love & hugs to you & Clay.


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