The Black Dog of Revision

Yesterday, I was feeling great. I had just finished my draft of Jacob Wrestling, and while I wasn’t celebrating wildly (I knew I had a lot of work left), I certainly had confidence that I was in decent shape in terms of finishing this book within the timeframe I’ve designed for myself.

Today, I sat down with my file folders full of revision notes from my writing buddy Tanya and went to work. I slogged my way though chapter 1 pretty easily. I’d already cleaned up the majority of that part of the book, so in an hour, I had all the opening material tidied to me liking. Chapter 2 needed a little more attention, but I knocked it out reasonably quickly as well. But when I hit chapter 3 and read back over my work, I choked.

What was this tripe I had written? What was I thinking when I committed some of this junk to the page? If, in the digital age, there could be those iconic paper-crumpling and tossing-said-paper-toward-a-trash-bin scenes, you can bet they would have happened in my office today. And while several hours can elapse without my notice when I’m working on new material, I felt every painful moment of each long hour I spent revising today. After dividing chapter 3 into several more digestible sections, plotting the work I need to accomplish each day the rest of this week, I bumbled on home to drown my sorrows in some Emergen-C, but all the B vitamins in the world weren’t going to pep me up today.

I think this might be something like what my wonderful teacher Bruce Holland Rogers meant when he referred to being “in the mouth of the black dog”– the feeling of generalized malaise that doesn’t want to let you get anything accomplished. Here’s hoping it shakes me loose pretty soon, and I can get back to being productive.

2 Replies to “The Black Dog of Revision”

  1. The black dog can snuggle and give kisses, too. You just gotta give it a little love first, and be patient. We’ll get you there!

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