Last month as I was trying to finish up all of my classes I put off what I needed to do for my last class as long as I possibly could.  But finally I had no finals left to study for; no tests left to take and it was time to tackle the dreaded short story revision that was required for my Creative Writing class.  I had two stories to fix based on critique from my teacher and my classmates.  After two rather painful days the stories were ready to be turned in to my teacher and I had made a discovery; one that only furthered my idea that revision is an extremely painful process.  I had realized that the process of revision closely resembles the five stages of grief.  These, are the five stages of revision.

1. Denial  You may find yourself saying things like: “This story is finished already, it’s perfect!  I really shouldn’t change a thing, I deserve some chocolate just for having written it!”  and “I in no way should even think about touching this masterful work of art that was clearly born out of my extreme intellect and some ethereal gift that was handed to me.”   This stage passes fairly quickly into the second stage of  revision.

2.  Anger Revision caused anger is indiscriminate and may direct itself towards a variety of different subjects.  Here are some possible recipients of revision based wrath.  Yourself: “Ugh, why did I even have to write this in the first place!” Your teacher: “I cannot believe that my evil teacher, who clearly only wants to ruin my life and crush my creativity is making me do this.” Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for writing better stories than you, and even your little brother for finishing the milk  and eating the last of the chocolate without asking your permission.

3. Bargaining   This stage may seem somewhat implausible when not revising for a class but only for your personal edification and character growth.  However, when you have reached the appropriate level of desperation you will start to think things sort of like this: “You know, this story is taking way longer to revise than it did to write in the first place.   So, if I just quit revising this story I can write a whole bunch of much better stories!” if this doesn’t work you may try bargaining to try to motivate yourself to write the story. “If I fix these three pages I get to eat that chocolate. Well, that’s asking a lot, perhaps just the two next two pages… or this page. Ah, heck I’ll just eat the chocolate now so it won’t distract me anymore.”

4.Depression This stage is the one that has earned writers a reputation as brooding and emotional.  I find it to be the longest and the most *ahem* dramatic, for example “Why, why, why did I think this story was a good idea, what insanity had gripped me?” or something along the lines of “How could I ever think that writing was a good idea, I am the world’s worst writer.  This is going to be the story that the real writers sit around and mock.”  Then you probably spend some time sulking in some corner somewhere listening to the saddest music you can find while eating large quantities of chocolate and wallowing in your own miserableness and perceived idiocy, until finally you reach stage five:

5. Acceptance  Eventually you will run out of stalling mechanisms and be forced to face the necessary evil of revision.  In the beginning it may sound something like this “Well, I’ve already poured so much effort into this crummy story I might as well finish it so that I can wash my hands of it forever.” As time goes on though you may be forced to admit that it is not in fact as you thought before a disgrace and not even worth the paper it’s printed on, and could possibly, some day even be a not horrible story.

There you have it, if any of this sounds familiar to you, you are probably suffering from revision.  If in fact you are afflicted with this curse on writers everywhere stop reading this blog, finish revising your story and reward yourself with some chocolate!*

*You may have noticed that chocolate was mentioned an inordinately large number of times for one blog post, but chocolate (and the eating of chocolate) is in many ways the most important stage of revision, and one that runs continuously through the entire process, which is why I can’t spend all my time revising or I’d be one very round little writer.