Revising: Swimsuit Shopping or Shoe Shopping?

I never thought I’d say this, but I’ve discovered something that’s more terrifying, humiliating, and painful than trying on a pile of swimsuits in April, after a long winter of chocolates and eggnog lattes.


I’ve also discovered something that’s more thrilling, energizing, and plain-old-fashioned fun than a trip to Nordstrom’s with a girlfriend to buy shoes.

Yup, you guessed it. That would be revising again.

As my Writer Friends know (because I’ve been whining about it for weeks), I’m working on revisions to two separate manuscripts. The revisions on one of them are not going well. I fix a bit, add a little sub-plot beefiness there, change a few lines of dialogue, and step back to read it. That one mental step back somehow causes me to lose all objectivity. I cannot tell if I have made things better, worse, or just re-shuffled the deck. Very frustrating. In fact, this whole manuscript has become the “swimsuit in April” experience for me. Even if everything were perfect -the prose tight, the humor sexy, the characters lean and lovely —  I would still lack objectivity. I would still not be able to walk away feeling satisfied with myself.

I would still have to run home, crying, and consume batch after batch of chocolate chip-walnut-self-loathing cookies. (Yes, it has been a baking week chez Nikki. A bad sign.)

And then there’s the OTHER manuscript. Revising this one makes me feel like I’m shoe-shopping on payday. It’s fun, energizing, and nothing I try goes wrong. Bliss.

It’s a good thing I had manuscript number two to work on, or I probably would have gone mad by now. Or eaten so many cookies the real swimsuit shopping in April would destroy me this year.

Have any of you had this happen — lost all objectivity when it came to revising a novel? What did you find worked for you? Did you ever get back your eye for “rightness” in your writing?

Or did you go mad and burn your manuscript up in the oven with one final batch of cookies? Not that *I* am considering such a thing…

Oh, I loved THIS this week – Ten Rules for Writing Fiction.

And on the reading front? This weekend I had The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr, and Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith to go with those cookies. Yum!

Posted in Children's Fiction, Miscellaneous on 03/01/2010 01:44 pm


  1. I’ve definitely been there – that point where you have no idea whether you’re making it worse or better. I just kept going and, at some point, the changes started to feel more natural and the things I’d suspected totally sucked, turned out not to suck *that* badly.

    I’ve never revised two manuscripts at the same time, by the way. You have my complete admiration! 🙂


    • Nikki Loftin

      Sarah – I’m not revising two at a time by choice, it’s just the way the timing came together! Still, I’m awfully glad I had two to work with. I would have gone stark raving mad if I had to sit with the swimsuit MS for another day. Maybe the time away will help…


  2. Kristin Miller

    Oh, yes. I just finished two mss worth of revisions and one of them was so marked up it looked like a whole new monster. I feel good about that bad boy. The other one . . . I swear I’m going to go back and redo some of it. I mean, it didn’t even need very much, but I feel like I crashed and burned on what it did need. Ugh.

    All best on your revisions!!!


    • Nikki Loftin

      Thanks, Kristin. That’s what’s going on in the swimsuit MS — it’s not supposed to be a major rewrite, but it’s taking forever… because I can’t get a handle on it.
      I’ll get it together next week, I’m sure. I hope. I pray.


  3. This is perfect. I love your analogies! You may just need to switch off those metaphorical horrible dressing room lights, so you can see your “swimsuit” MS in a new way. 🙂 But yeah, I have no idea how to do this . . .

    Like Sarah, I’ve never revised two at a time, but I love that at least one MS is making you happy. I’m sure your MS is going to be ready for swimsuit season! Best wishes with it!


    • Nikki Loftin

      Thanks, Lori. I think I’m going to finish this round of revising on the “shoes” MS today!
      I’ve seen you in person, so I know you have NO idea what I’m talking about when I comment on looking bad in swimsuits 😉


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