Revision: Are We Having Fun Yet?

We live in a small town called Rocky River on the west side of Cleveland. Nearby, there is an actual Rocky River – about 6 inches deep and 30 yards wide.

Driving next to the river – it doesn’t matter the day, hour, or weather – I always see one or two men, in thigh-high waders, fly-fishing on the river. And I mean ANY weather. Like last Wednesday night, when it was about 28 degrees outside and snowing heavily (yes, at the end of March)!

Turns out a friend’s husband and his father are one of those crazies men that were out there Wednesday night.

I wanted to, but didn’t, ask if the guys had fun. How could something that looked so miserable be at all fun? But if it isn’t fun, why in the world do they do it?

The fish wasn’t for sustenance. They were so cold after 20 minutes that they gave up and went for coffee. But I know they will be back out there again, no matter the weather. They are fishermen, and that’s what fishermen do.

No one has ever asked me if writing is fun, so I thought I’d ask myself.

It does feel a lot like what the fishermen go through. Out there alone in the cold, the world streaming past you, and you are armed only with a small instrument to catch something elusive.

Fun? That depends.

Writing a first draft is fun. I have learned to abandon myself during the first draft – throwing up on the page, is my term for it. No pressure, no editing.

But after the first draft is done comes revision. Not so fun.

Now sometimes, it can be fun. Like when I think of something good to add or change and it comes together organically.

And then there are times it is a struggle. Like right now.

I am revising a story I wrote (gulp) 11 years ago. It has never been quite right and never been published.

Over the years I’ve tried to “fix” it, but now I am doing something drastic.

To begin, I cut off the first five pages. Ouch. But already it is better. And I’ve changed the ending, which smooths out a troublesome plot point.

Now it is time to wade in and wrestle with those pesky 10 middle pages.

Is it fun? Not really. But there I go, doing it anyway, because that’s what a writer does.

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