Pep Talk March 2011

by Brandi Ziegler

I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter. 

~ James Michener


This is for those nearing the end of their revisions* before seeking representation.

Last month I was staring at a chapter I’d been having trouble with for weeks. I was also dealing with scattered, highlighted phrases and sentences that need fixing throughout ELEMENTAL SACRIFICES: THE GATHERING. Every time I looked at that chapter or those highlights my eye would start twitching. I wanted to die. I did not want to do one. More. Edit.

I loathed my MS. Why was there always something off, something my Critique Partners were asking me to fix? And dang it – why were they right? Why hadn’t I seen that? What else have I been missing? When was I going to be done?

I started to distance myself from ESTG. I took breaks. Long breaks. On some nights, instead of revising I curled up on the couch with popcorn (yum!) and watched reruns of Monk. When I sat at my desk I opened up Facebook or browsed blogs. My ridiculous writing standards wouldn’t allow me to abandon my MS completely. I reworked that chapter. I went through and confronted every highlight.

Last week I sent that awful (I’ll admit, there was name calling) chapter to my CPs for their approval. While I waited I tweaked the rest of ESTG. I refused to let my flawed MS hang over my head. I was making my friends and family miserable, sulking and daydreaming about my revisions. For everyone’s sanity I chugged through.


This is why I haven’t posted anything in weeks. I’ve been too busy kicking my MS’s ass.

Recently I got rave reviews from my CPs. They approved ESTG and wished me luck as I sought representation.


After their approval I scrolled through my MS. Finally, there was nothing else to edit. I paused and marveled at my own work. When you’re not agented yet, when only beta-readers, family, and friends have read your MS, you have to be your biggest fan. This week I fell in love with ESTG all over again. I know there’s an agent out there who will love my MS as much as I do. I’ve polished that sucker with my tears and found it respectable. You might be asking, “Is it worth it?”



 Remember that rush when you finished your first draft?
When you revise your MS to the point of letting a professional look at it; to possibly represent it and put their name behind it. That feeling of accomplishment, my friends, is so worth it, and it feels ten times better.

So for those nearing the end of their revisions: don’t give up. It’s okay if you hate your MS or if you feel it’ll never be up to snuff. We’ve all been there. But remember: you’re a writer. And if you’re going to go as far as finishing a novel (GOOD JOB!), then follow through and polish your work to make a CP, an agent, and an editor say, “I want in on this”.

Good luck and happy writing!

*This is the 5th time I’ve done revisions. You’re definitely going to need more than a first draft, and by that I mean at least a third. Give yourself time to discover every possible way you can improve your original draft. Otherwise why edit anything at all?