Yesterday, the dynamic Kate Austin presented her fast-paced The ABCs of Revising to the Vancouver Island Chapter of the Romance Writers of America.
Here’s a sampling of what I learned:
Kate and I have similar tastes in books about writing. Among her favourites are Stephen King’s On Writing and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, which are also at the top of my To Be Reread Often list.
Scuttlebutt in the writing community is that you write 500,000 words before you write a publishable book. Holy smokin’ thesaurus, that’s a lot of words! However, it’s pretty much in line with Malcolm Gladwell’s conclusion in his book Outliers that people who are very very good at something have put in 10,000 hours of practice. Doing something well just takes that much work.
Revision is as much an art as writing is. Because I’m in the throes of revising a novel, I was comforted to hear this. It does feel to me like I’m shaping something, forming it like clay: moulding this bit, taking that piece off and moving it somewhere else, smoothing this curve, giving that surface more texture.
And now I interrupt my sculpting to calculate how close I’m getting to that 500,000-word mark.