The Five Stages of Revision

This might be just me. Maybe. Hopefully not. But it happens every time I've finished a manuscript, and the feedback starts rolling in from betas. Every writer knows that their first draft is so rough it could be used as sandpaper. But knowing is not the same thing as hearing it. Does that make sense? It's kind of like the five stages of grief. Yeah, I'm using it for my own sick and twisted version. (If a post like this has been done before, I shall again go through the following five stages.)

1. Denial

My first instinct is to argue. After I've opened that e-mail and reread it probably a hundred and seven times, I sit there and ignore the obvious. No, you're wrong. That scene is perfect, and the fact that it only makes sense to me doesn't matter. Everyone else will get it. Well, besides you. And that other beta. And that other one.

2. Anger

I can feel it building up inside me, like... puke. No, something more literary. Like molten lava. My hands form fists and I'm gritting my teeth so hard it hurts. I can't even think right! These people are so, so wrong. I don't care if they've never been wrong before, or that they are excellent writers themselves, or that they are only trying to help me. I should delete these e-mails. I should. I really should. But I can't bring myself to do it. It's only because I'm normally a nice person, not because deep down I know they're right! Stop looking at me like that. Stop it! Right now.

3. Bargaining

Okay. Breathing deeply. There might be some valid points to what you're saying. Just a little, okay, so don't go getting all smug or excited. Let me explain to you why the story needs to stay the same. Well, I will have to change that now that you've so rudely shown me how confusing it is. Are you sure you're trying to help me? Because it feels like you're ripping my guts out. Fine, well, what if I do this, but leave that the same? I know it doesn't work, but I need this, dang it!

4. Depression

Then comes a point for me after all of this where I feel my stomach sink, and I think... Wow, I suck. How could I not have seen that? How could I have written that? I turn off all the lights, and I curl into a corner. Ignore the ringing phone. Let the cat eat that library book. Hug my dog so tight he gets annoyed with me. Great, now even my dog doesn't like me anymore. So pathetic. I'm not going to write anymore. What's the point? I suck. Suck, suck, suck.

(I may be dramatizing this for my own amusement.)

5. Acceptance

It's as obvious as the freaking sun. They're right. So right it hurts. I don't know how you put up with me, betas. I really don't. You're amazing people. Please excuse me while I turn away for a moment. No, don't look. I'm not crying; I have something in my eye. Now! (Cracks knuckles.) I have some work to do. See you in a couple weeks.