Breast Cancer, Vacation, Revision, Oh My!

Me holding the finished draft of my book, along with the goody bag they gave me after completing radiation. The certificate says, “Melody Maysonet has completed the prescribed course of radiation with courage, determination, and good nature.” Not always, but I’ll take it!

I recently finished a complete draft of my latest novel, which, for me, is a big deal, especially because I’ve spent the last four years  tangled up in plot revisions, character revisions, setting revisions—you name it. So needless to say, it felt really good to type the words “The End,” even though I planned on editing it a bit before sending it to my agent. It didn’t hurt that I got to type “The End” on the same day that I finished radiation treatments for my recent run-in with breast cancer. (The cancer was caught early, and six months later I’m doing great.)

My husband and I enjoying the view near Skagway, Alaska.

So I typed “The End” on my manuscript and made a big Facebook announcement about how good it felt to be (mostly) done with this thing, and then I handed it off to three trusted beta readers. While they enjoyed my masterpiece, I proceeded to go on an Alaskan cruise, secure in the knowledge that I’d be well rested and ready to tackle the revision when I got back.

Well, let me tell you something about vacation. It re-sets your mind, but not in a good way when it comes to getting back to work. When I came back from Alaska, I wanted my beta readers to tell me how wonderful my book was—how it only needed a few touchups here and there. But revision is never that easy, especially when the last quarter of the book hasn’t been run through my critique group. In fact, I was the only one to ever see those last hundred pages, so of course they need work. How did I fool myself into thinking they might need only light revision when the first three-quarters of the book went through revision after revision after revision?

For years, I’ve been fantasizing about roasting marshmallows on an open fire, and I’m happy to say that in Alaska, that dream came true. (And yes, they were delicious!)

Well, now my vacation is over, and it’s time for a reality check. As I write this, I’m dreading the work, the sitting with butt in chair, the writing and rewriting of scenes that never seem quite right until I finally realize I’m approaching it all wrong and have to scrap it and start over.

I know that once I delve back into it, my passion for writing and for the story will take over, but until then (today is my 49th birthday, so I feel like I’m permitted a little grousing), I’m going to keep dreading the weeks of upcoming work and remember with bittersweet fondness my beautiful Alaskan vacation when the most pressing thing I had to think about was which dessert to have with my coal-baked salmon. (I chose roasted marshmallows and blueberry cake.)

Wish me luck going forward!

Melody Maysonet is the author of A Work of Art, which which won the 2016 Hoffer Award for best fiction and was named a “Best book of 2015” by YA Books Central. Visit her website at www.MelodyMaysonet.com, or contact her via email (melody@maysonet.com), Facebook (AuthorMelodyMaysonet) or Twitter (@MelodyMaysonet).

Melody Maysonet

Melody Maysonet has been an English teacher, editor, columnist, and ghostwriter. A self-proclaimed geek, she loves reading fantasy, but prefers writing edgy, real-world fiction—as evidenced by her first novel, A WORK OF ART (Simon Pulse), which received a Starred Review from Kirkus, won the 2016 Hoffer Award for best fiction, and was named a Best Book of 2015 by YA Books Central.

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