I have sometimes described revising a manuscript as wrestling with an octopus. There's always a tentacle that's sure to slip free and slap you on the forehead. Beth Kephart doesn't use that exact image, but the struggle she describes in this post sounds eerily familiar: "I could get some parts right at the expense of others. ... It was like trying to manage a sine curve."
is not a novice talking. This is a seasoned and accomplished author of
articles, novels, memoirs. An award-winning writer, a teacher and mentor
of others. She writes, "The second book is harder. ... You have already
used some of your favorite images, your most primal memories, and you
have expectations now—those that originate within yourself and those
that come from external forces." And spoiler alert: It doesn't get any
easier after the second book.
Which I find oddly comforting. The
flailing, the trial and error, the false starts and endless rewrites,
are not necessarily signs that we're doing it wrong. This just may be
the way that a book gets written.