Revision, Or: Hell & Hot Pockets

Warning: I use an uncharacteristic amount of expletives in this post. I guess I feel quite strongly about revision.

30 Day Know Thyself Writing Challenge, Day 19: Describe your revision process.

Haaaahahaha…“process”. That implies organization.

My revisioning is rather haphazard, actually. It’s kind of like trying to put out a fire with gasoline, and then throwing firecrackers and Hot Pockets at it. You still get a Hot Pocket out of the deal, but that by no means guarantees satisfaction. In fact, it’s more likely to do the opposite.

Here’s how my revision typically goes down:

I start writing something.

I labor over the first few sentences; with any luck I have a few paragraphs down before the self-editing starts.

A sentence from the first paragraph spontaneously combusts.

I rush to the scene to quell the offending flame. But before I have the first offense under tabs another six spring up.

I turn my attention to the new problems and, just when I think I’ve thrown an adequate amount of water on them, TURNS OUT THEY’RE GREMLINS AND THE BASTARDS MULTIPLY



It’s cool bro, don’t matter, just keep writing. Even Hemingway said that the first draft of everything is shit. It doesn’t have to be good now, just get some words on the page and fix things later. Whew, okay, I can do this.

A few sentences later:


And on it goes, with sentences exploding and whole sections being torched in favor of a new draft, until somehow, miraculously and against all odds, I crawl out of a chapter or short story some weeks later with one shoe, shredded clothing, hairy legs and a week’s supply of Cheetos Puffs wrappers. Oh yes: and in this rare, victorious moment I am clutching a complete first draft. Which is, theoretically, where revisions should actually begin.


In summation, my revision “process” is a total nightmare and in desperate need of work. I particularly need to get comfortable with writing poorly so that it doesn’t take forever to complete a single draft.

For first-time readers, I’d like you to assure you that I’m actually a very mild-mannered person. My regular posts do not contain gratuitous strands of capital letters, weird swears, Hot Pockets or Cheetos. I don’t even like Hot Pockets. Please don’t run away. Watch the funny man rip on Hot Pockets instead.


6 responses to “Revision, Or: Hell & Hot Pockets”

  1. Totally agree. Whenever I revise a piece, it just ends up exploding in my face. I change one thing, and then everything else seems to be out of place, until I end up with a product that I didn’t expect. Writing a piece is only half the fun. The rest is editing until your eyes can’t stay open anymore.

    1. Fair play, Linh. You’re far more patient and graceful a soul than I. Sometimes, when I finally make it through the first draft of a piece, I just want to chuck it across the room and never look at it again. Kind of how I felt when I read the fifth Harry Potter. (Too much angst! Why, Harry, why??)

  2. Yes – by far – this is my favorite post. HILARIOUS! And so true.

    And I LOVE Jim Gaffigan! Love love love, him! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Julianna! This one was definitely one of the most fun to write… 🙂 And YES, Gaffigan is genius. I have heard his Hot Pocket rant a dozen times but it still makes me laugh!

      1. He is! I am constantly quoting him. I was so lucky to see him live in Pittsburgh a few years ago and he had me laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe and I was in tears. Stand up comedy is one of my favorite things but it’s so hard to find comedians that can be funny without all the crude profanity.

  3. And I thought I had it bad….

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