I started making a to-do list like I did last time since it worked so well: I organized items on the list from biggest changes to smallest, starting with scenes to add and ending with technical stuff like "watch out for head-hopping." If this round of revision is anything like before, this should go pretty well.
Yet, oddly, I have a heavy sinking feeling. Something's wrong.
Why do I feel so awful? Why do I feel almost... bitter?
For a long time, I couldn't understand it. I don't mind the work. It's not a blow to my ego or anything. I knew I'd have to rewrite it when I got an agent, so I don't mind making changes. I still enjoy the novel. I'm excited about making the book better. I'll admit to feeling a little lost and overwhelmed, but that's not what's making me squirm inside.
I finally realized what's bothering me; it's this constant sense of deja vu. The individual changes are different, but the process I'm going through is the same as it was seven months ago.
Every step I take, my mind says, "Haven't we done this already?"
I know how much I've progressed as an author since my last revision seven months ago. But I don't feel like I'm progressing at all. I feel stuck. I'm ready to move on to a new stage, or a new novel. I feel like Sacred Fire is a bungee chord attached with a hook to my side, and it'll let me run forward just a little ways before snapping me back.
I shouldn't present you with my list of regrets. I shouldn't even be thinking about them myself. I can't help it.
You see, there's a reason writers rarely publish their first books. Writing novels is impossibly hard, and you have to write a few to learn how to do it. I look at how much better Hunger and Fierce are than Sacred Fire in so many ways, and I wish -- with all my heart, I wish -- that my first book was one I didn't care so much about. I wish I was sitting here with a mediocre novel that I could throw over my shoulder and say to you, "Well, that's not going anywhere, but I have this idea about Vestal Virgins that should be good."
Instead, I'm stuck with a manuscript that I'm willing to put as much blood, sweat, and tears into as it needs, come hell or high water. I want this book to succeed. Not the next one, or the one after that, but this one.
I guess love is like that sometimes. It can feel imprisoning, and it can feel freeing. It just depends on where you're standing at the time.