IVP - Behind the Books - I Hate Revising

July 28, 2008

I Hate Revising

I asked Father Albert Haase, author of Coming Home to Your True Self, if he'd like to blog about writing. Apparently, I asked on a bad day.

I told my editor last night, "You know, I don´t think I will ever want to write another book. This one is going to be my swan song even though I am still pretty much a fledgling."

Knowing how I am prone to exaggerate and also knowing I have a lunch meeting scheduled with another author at the end of the week about possibly collaborating on something, my editor didn´t flinch. It irritated me that she didn´t get on her knees, shed a couple of alligator tears, pull her hair, feign despair and beg me not to say such silly things.

I am so frustrated. Once it was a transition in chapter two. Then there was that goofy paragraph in chapter four. Now I´m told it´s all of chapter 5 that needs to be reconsidered, rethought and rewritten. Well, I have reconsidered it. I have rethought it. I have rewritten it. And they tell me it still ain´t right. And I´m just sick of it. I say: let´s just null and void the contract and call the project off.

I hate writing. I really do. I don´t know why I keep doing it. Well, maybe I do know why: there´s nothing like holding a published book and seeing your own name on the cover. It´s very gratifying even though no one at the local Christian bookstore or at Borders realizes that behind Cindy Kiple´s handsome cover and nicely chosen font and all those polite promotional blurbs (usually written by your friends!), lies hours and hours of sweat, frustration and research into Dante´s Inferno to find out where he placed book editors who are actually paid for doing something unchristian--telling you what you have done is not quite "up to snuff."

Of course, having a few books under my belt and knowing that some editor is going to scrutinize this to see if it´s "appropriate" for a blog, I also know the value of a demanding editor. I really do. My very first editor, who literally used up an entire red felt-tip pen to note required changes, taught me how to write like a writer instead of preach like a preacher. I would never, ever have been able to teach myself that technique without the dreadful task of revising a manuscript. I will be always indebted to Karen Hurley for that. And then there was Lisa who taught me the value and "classy look" of a well-placed semi-colon. "Punctuation can make a sentence sing," she told me - and it´s true! And then there was the "pit bull" (that was my nick-name for her!) who simply refused to let me get away with one throw-away sentence - much less throw-away word. She taught me that it really and truly pays off to agonize over just one word. So I am really grateful for tough editors, as much as their requests make me queasy.

It´s just that being hounded to reconsider, rethink and rewrite chapter five - and knowing it has to be completed in one week - will keep me pondering and fussing . . . when I just wish the manuscript would be completed.

I´ll keep that lunch appointment. And I will in all likelihood, attempt another book. But I won´t like the revising! And I will pray that the good Lord has mercy on my editor´s soul.

Addendum from the editor: This blog was written on Thursday. On Monday I received the revision of chapter five with the following note: "I got an idea for another book . . . I am getting to Mayslake Ministries REAL early tomorrow morning (Monday . . . around 7:30am at the latest) and I hope to steal 30 minutes to start an outline. I feel lots and lots of "energy" around the idea."

Now you know why I "didn't flinch" when the author suggested that he would never write another book. Sometimes if you just stay quiet things work themselves out.

Posted by Cindy Bunch at July 28, 2008 8:27 PM Bookmark and Share


This made me cringe and then laugh and then cringe and laugh so more. I so relate with the highs and lows of the creative process and I'm so glad Father Albert will keep writing!

Comment by: Stacey at July 29, 2008 11:17 AM

I'm have little experience reading manuscripts, but after one down for your very own Ms. Starbuck and another one in the works for Al, I can really appreciate this post.

I love bettering good books, but I also wonder how the writer will receive pages of criticism! It's great to hear that those who are called to write retain that passion for sharing their ideas, despite the pain of revising. I'm sure it's exciting for you as an editor to watch the transformation of not only the book but also the author, as s/he moves through naive optimism to exhausted frustration to, finally, joy and pride in the finished product!

Comment by: Ashleigh at July 29, 2008 12:48 PM

Hi Ashleigh--Funny you should email about Margot Starbuck as I was just thinking of telling her about this blog since she is in the throes of revision! It is one of the most rewarding parts of the process to watch an author take in the feedback, understand it and make the book stronger and more effective.

Comment by: Cindy Bunch at July 29, 2008 12:59 PM

Oh yeah.

And I loved Haase's book.

Comment by: L.L. Barkat at July 29, 2008 4:52 PM

Fr. Albert has made another profound point. Having worked with good editors and the less than excellent editors, I understand your pain. You have worked and written and rewritten and rewritten and rewritten. Some editors then will try to make you change your thoughts to match their ambitions. You then swear you will never do it again. Then you want to do it again. A good editor will know that there is a difference between editing and alteration.

Comment by: Toby Eastland at July 29, 2008 6:26 PM

You had previously mentioned Scholer's bookshelves.


Dr. David M. Scholer, professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary, passed away on Friday, August 22, 2008, after a long struggle with cancer. Scholer, who was 70, served on Fuller’s faculty for the past 14 years.

Fuller Seminary Remembers the Life of David M. Scholer

Blog tributes: Prof. David M. Scholer (1938-2008)

Comment by: Andy Rowell at August 27, 2008 9:13 PM

Thanks, Andy. We were sorry to hear the news here. My colleague Jim Hoover and I were both students of David's.

Comment by: Cindy Bunch at August 28, 2008 2:18 PM

Comments are closed for this entry.