How to Revise a Novel: A Recipe for Muffins


Wake up (always a good first step). Get dressed, eat breakfast, see the kids off to school, and go over four sets of detailed critiques, all of which suggest different things. Get ready to revise. Then realize the dog needs a walk, and so do you.

Hold the different things in your mind while you walk the dog. Get distracted by the sudden wonder of a doe and her fawn bursting white-tailed and alarmed from the undergrowth. Come back to earth and get ready to revise. Then realize you need tea.

Settle in with tea (necessary; do not skip this step). Journal for a while about your hopes and fears for this revision: this story can be magical/this story deserves your best work/there is no way on any planet you will ever be able to do this story justice. Get ready to revise anyway. Then realize you need muffins.

Go to the kitchen, pull down a cookbook, and find a recipe. Then realize you need to change the sugar water in the hummingbird feeder. Realize all of a sudden that every hummingbird in the county is at the feeder right this second. Wait. Watch them. Realize that a hummingbird preening itself is maybe the best thing possible. Make muffins in a sporadic fashion while spying on hummingbird drama. Make sugar water. Bake muffins. Feed hummers. Eat muffins. Realize that it is utterly impossible to revise a novel. Get ready to revise anyway. Then realize you need to check your email.

Find this quote in your inbox, via Vanessa Herald’s A Fierce Practice:

The real writer is one
who really writes. Talent
is an invention like phlogiston
after the fact of fire.
Work is its own cure. You have to
like it better than being loved.
Realize that Marge Piercy is always right and this is always true: the work is its own cure, and you like it better than being loved.
Revise that novel already.

4 thoughts on “How to Revise a Novel: A Recipe for Muffins

  1. Hi Brenna,

    Comments on revisions and muffins are closed – I’m late to get to reading it, but I squirreled it away until this evening. I would have laughed out loud but I didn’t want to wake the rest of the household. The truth of this is hilariously Right On The Mark. Yes, me too. Thank you for sharing this oh so human writer adventure.

    xo Peggy

    1. Hi, Peggy! Thanks so much–I’m glad it resonated with you. I switched my blog comments a while ago so that I can approve them before they post, since a random dudebro thought it would be fun to get ugly with me, and I really didn’t want any of my friends to be subjected to that nonsense. So you’re not late; I’m just exercising some control over how things show up here. ❤

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