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  • Kristina Elyse Butke

Revisions are Kicking My Butt


Pencil on book page - revisions are kicking my butt
Photo by Elisa Calvet B. via Unsplash

This is an update post on Son of the Siren, and as you can see by my title, things aren't going so well. Allow me to spill my heart out to you.


The book was finished summer 2021 and has been through so many rewrites...and it's just not in the place I want it to be. Here's a brief history of the manuscript:


2021

  • February - Submitted to Voyage YA First Chapters Contest

  • May - First chapter rewritten based on editorial comments

  • August 10 - Finished Son of the Siren

  • Late August - Sent for developmental edits to Katie Kenyhercz

  • Late August-September - Rewritten based on developmental edits

  • September - Submitted to beta readers at Independent Book Review; beta readers give the book three stars

  • October - Rewritten based on beta reader reports

  • October - Submitted to an author friend for comments

  • November into December - Rewritten based on author comments

2022

  • Early January - Rewritten and submitted to Author Mentor Match

  • February - Submitted to beta readers again -- Kit N' Kabookle and Haunted Unicorn Publishing; beta readers give the book three stars

  • March to present - Currently rewriting based on beta reader reports and feedback from Author Mentor Match

So...I'm on my fifth rewrite. This does not count the feedback I got or changes I made while drafting (from family and friends), or the multiple drafts I created while writing (at least fifteen), where I would stop in the middle of the manuscript and save a new file if I was taking the work in a different direction but didn't want to delete anything.


The problems I'm facing are always the same--how do I decide which advice to follow and which advice to leave behind? It's particularly difficult because once again, my advice was kind of all over the place. But, if I've heard the same commentary from more than one person, I've been editing to address their criticism, as consistency of feedback seems to point to a problem with the work.


The romance is still not quite there. The Queen, my antagonist, is the key thing dragging down the manuscript. The question of "whose fault is it" when it comes to the Queen's bewitchment and Lirien's treatment is still murky. Pacing is still a bit funky. And I seem to have trouble accomplishing deep POV while using third person.


I have been revising since the end of March but my heart doesn't seem to be in it. At first, upon receiving the latest feedback, I had gotten some inspiration and felt excited...then I kept thinking about all the stuff I had to do to make the book better, and I got overwhelmed. Plus, I'm distracted by preparing for the big move from Japan back to the United States.


I've been told my beginning drags so I made some cuts. I eliminated some sections devoted to worldbuilding. I rearranged the timeline in which major events happen to get to things faster. I cut a character I liked (I may bring them back later in the book, but I don't know if there's a place for them anymore because they were there to help with exposition in a fun way, and I cut the exposition).


All the while, there's this disembodied feeling I have to the manuscript; a sense of disconnect. I described it to my therapist as having my head being a balloon floating several feet above my body as I rewrite the book.


Because of this, I'm not sure if any of the changes I'm making are any good. I feel pretty alone, even though so many people have tried to help me make the book better.


I don't know how much more I'll be able to keep working on the book the closer it gets to my departure date--there are tons of things that need to be done that are taking my attention and time away from revisions. Although I've been working on the book since the end of March, I've only touched the manuscript four times. Who knows if I'll work on it in May...I might not get serious time in until August, when I'm back in the United States. And I hate that it's taking me so long to get through this.


And then I can't help but ponder another question: how much revision is too much?


I've got a lot on my plate and I just needed to vent. Please wish me luck. This book is one of the hardest things I've ever done.