Nathan Bransford, Author


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Way Cocktail Parties Should Really Go

Person #1: Wow, you're a reviser? A published reviser??

Person #2: Yeah. I've revised five books now.

Person #1: Oh my god!! I can't believe I'm actually talking to a published reviser!! How glamorous is that?

Person #2: Well, it's hard work actually. I put a lot of time into my revisions.

Person #1: But to see your revisions on the shelf? What is that like?

Person #2: I've been revising since I was twelve, so.... it's kind of a dream.

Person #1: Wow. Aren't all revisers super rich?

Person #2: Not really. You'd be surprised at how little revisers make. I still have a day job, though of course the dream is to be a full-time reviser.

Person #1: You know... I've always thought everyone has one revision in them. Someday I'm just going to sit down and revise my memoir.

Person #2: Well... revising isn't that easy. You don't just sit down and revise, you should really study the craft.

Person #1: Oh nonsense, how hard could revising a book be?

Person #2: Would you look at that, my drink is empty. I'd better head to the bar. Nice meeting you. Good luck with that revision.



PS: CONGRATULATIONS to Ashley A. for correctly picking Duke as the NCAA National Champion and for winning the 2nd Annual Blog Bracket Challenge!! Thanks so much to everyone for participating.






75 comments:

Tahereh said...

hehehe this is hilarious.

thanks for another great post, nathan.

Natalie Whipple said...

That would make me feel a lot better. Thanks for making me smile.

ryan field said...

Good one. I'm revising right now.

Kristan said...

LOL best fake conversation between two fake revisers ever!

And like Natalie, it makes me feel better. Thanks. :)

Annie McMahon said...

Haha!! Refreshing. :)

Shawn said...

Well said, Sir. Well said.

Mira said...

Lol. I like the line: 'Oh nonsense, how hard could revising be?'

Clever. :)

Although, you mentioned cocktail parties in last week's video, too. I'd like to say I'm noticing a dearth of cocktail parties in my life. I haven't been to a cocktail party.....um, ever. Why haven't I been to a cocktail party? See - this is how things work. I was completely unaware of my cocktail party deprivation, but now I'm aware and this must change. How does one go to a cocktail party?

I'll try asking. I'm free Thursday night. If anyone is holding a cocktail party, please invite me. Thank you.


So, congrats to Ashley! Shows how out of touch I am. I was finally going to enter the contest this weekend. I suppose it's too late now.....right? Because if it's not too late, I'm going with Duke.

Cute post, Nathan.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nathan,

I didn't get to see your earlier post re Ebooks last week - time zone differences due to living in England. I saw this on the Dystel and Goderich blog, though, and thought you should take a look.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/04/04/opinion/04opchart.html

Nathan Bransford said...

Saw that, anon, thanks! I'll be linking to it on Friday.

Anonymous said...

I think some of the link got cut off

:o?

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/04/04/opinion/04opchart.html

Krista V. said...

:)

And congrats to Ashley A. Butler sure gave all you Duke supporters a scare. (And all the people who picked Kansas and Kentucky - and were still hanging out at the top of the list - a thrill.) :)

Kristin said...

Love it!

JLC said...

Too funny!! I love it!

Reesha said...

hahaha.
I like that.

"Everyone has at least one good revision in them."

I'm going to remember that.

Katherine said...

Nathan, what a timely post this is! I was just reminding myself this morning to go back and start the editing process on one of my three finished manuscripts. However, those particular characters haven't been calling me, so I've been focused on the manuscript that's gotten twenty rejections in the past two months. That revising process has lead me to another story, a writing class, five books on writing and editing (read them all) and my emergence from the dismal tunnel of rejection better informed on what agents are looking for and what I did wrong the first time out.

It really is a process. I appreciate your post validating this. All my Beta readers are anxious to read my "revisions/rewrites/latest updates" and I have put them off. I am intent on polishing and changing the manuscript, apparently to a detrimental level. As I told my husband the other day, you know how you take a scissors and start trimming until you have destroyed any semblance of a good haircut? That's where I'm at with the rejected manuscript...(heavy sigh here). Putting tension on every page is a monumental task in and of itself, though necessary.

But, this revisionist life is surely a calling because the characters in my head currently rule my life and are pretty much the only ones I can talk to!!! Forget the cocktail party or practice saying, "I don't talk about my works in progress," and say it with a wide smile.

Or

Stand in a corner, observe and steal all the best character flaws being displayed throughout the room.

Josin L. McQuein said...

Revising Jacob Wonderbar, are you?


:-P

Emily White said...

Haha!

I'm with Mira--I'm feeling very cocktail party deprived. :)

C(h)ristine said...

love this. got a giggle, a well needed giggle, out of me (i'm mid-novel-revision).

Matthew Rush said...

Hmm, this makes me feel a little dumb for thinking writing a book would be easy a year or two back.

Oh well, you still have to start somewhere, thanks Nathan.

Kristin Laughtin said...

I love it. Best imaginary convo in a long time.

Like Mira, there is a dearth of cocktail parties in my life. I think we should just host our own.

Chantal Kirkland said...

That was so funny. I TOTALLY agree. It's hard sometimes when people don't really understand that most of writing is revising. And then, they're like: that must be fun. Well, yeah, it's a ton of fun, but it's also the hardest job I've ever done.

D. G. Hudson said...

After the heavy posting yesterday, this light approach is welcome.

Everyone deserves a little respect - ask Aretha. Authors, and revisers, too.

As for the ethics issue from your post yesterday, corporations wouldn't have to ask their employees to sign a form agreeing to operate ethically if all their employees had better principles. Too many rip-off artists these days, and they exist in all walks of life. Look at all the CEOs, and government officials who have been caught with their hands in the candy jar. Hmmm.

JohnO said...

Ha! [The rest of this comment has been temporarily redacted, pending revision.]

Mayowa said...

Revisions are like visiting the dentist, taxes, politicians, PT cruisers and Jersey Shore...that is they are a necessary evil hehe.

Elliot Grace said...

Nathan...wow. Started reading your post when it was tagged with 16 comments. By the time I finished running through everyone's thoughts, 16 was 22, and no doubt when I finish my comment and hit "Publish,"(the magic word,) my jargon will be placed somewhere around the 50 mark. Impressive...I'm reminded of one of those old school streams of fly paper, often dangling from under the awnings in front of trailers in mid-August. Simply unravel them orange tapes full of nastiness, sit back with a frosty Pabst and watch them helpless flies land...and stick...for good. Of course that would make all of us the flies... Funny post Nathan, revision...not a walk in the park:)

Ink said...

I should have won the brackets! I would have won! If only I hadn't been, um, 620 points behind Ashley.

And I love revision. There are a lot of pleasures in revision. Maybe we should do a better job of expounding on the joys and importance of revision rather than the magic of the first draft. Maybe the working aspect of the writer would be more visible then, rather than the mystical, free-flowing connection with the muse.

It's good to get into those sentences and get your elbows dirty.

Kristi Helvig said...

Duke, really? Wow, I must have come in last place this year - someone please tell me I beat Nathan at least!

I love the cocktail conversation -- I definitely feel like a non-profit reviser at this point. It should be a tax deduction!

Melissa Gill said...

Doesn't Word do all the revising for you? Ha Ha

Stephen Prosapio said...

A good fantasy, but would it really take a reviser that long to finish a drink??? Methinks not!
;-)

Melissa Sarno said...

Wonderful, I love it!

Kate said...

This is why I just...don't really talk about my writing. My husband gives me a hard time about it. But conversations about writing can get awkward in a hurry.

Bill Greer said...

How many revisions went into your blog post?

Loren Eaton said...

I. Love. This.

Bane of Anubis said...

Hitting too much sauce last night after the Duke win, eh?

Duke's victory: I know know what it's like to be a Kings' fan.

Ashley A. said...

First of all,
YAY!!!
Thank you all for your well-wishes.

And thank you, Nathan for the brackets challenge! I wanted to win this so badly. GO DUKE.

I also want to say what a fabulous and timely kick in the pants – I mean post – this is. I hope this means I'm not the only one who waaannts to be a reviser. It does make me feel silly for not quite getting there, though.

Oops! I just got word that the Duke buses have arrived on campus. Gotta get back to work. The town's going to be crazy.

Anonymous said...

But sob sob for Butler. :(

Nathan, if you've answered something like this before, can you please direct me? Curious about drafting a query for a book with multiple POV characters whose stories intersect in a Zadie Smith's "White Teeth" or Claire Messud's "The Emperor's Children" kind of way.

Thanks, much.

howdidyougetthere said...

I feel a theme song coming on...

"Then I saw her face... now i'm a Revisor..."

Suggestions, anyone?

Kristi

T. Anne said...

I'm at the revisions party myself. My drink of choice is coffee.

Other Lisa said...

Lemme tell you, the life of a revisor is not all cocktail parties and Oprah appearances. Though you can at least do it in your pajamas.

Jil said...

Funny post, Nathan, and how very possible.
I once dated a big movie editor and asked him if he ever aspired to being something important, like an actor. What fools we mortals can be!

Marilyn Peake said...

ROFLOL. That is truly hilarious! I'm actually revising a novel right now. Maybe I should go to a cocktail party and talk about it. HaHaHa! That is excellent. Made my day. :)

Marilyn Peake said...

Nathan,

I'm looking forward to the sequel to your post, by the way ... after revisions, of course. You know, the part where the reviser leaves the cocktail party, and has to smile for screaming fans and paparazzi cameras and sign autographs. You know, all in the day of a reviser. :)

David said...

Ah, this post is a thing of beauty!

No, wait, I should have said, "Ah, what a beautiful thing this post is!"

No, wait, I should have said ...

terripatrick said...

How fun! I posted the 4 year process I took revising my memoir, which still needs another polish...

Marilyn Peake said...

The Real Life of a Reviser

Person #1: Damn. I need to revise again today, and I have an incredible migraine ... Oh yeah, that would be from revising yesterday.

Person #2: [Oh wait, there is no person #2. Person #1 is the reviser, alone in their office, which is messy, by the way, from months of neglect while revising.]

Person #3: I’m the Muse. Quit your whinin’ and get back to work.

Persons #4 through #7: Yeah, what she said. We’re your woefully underdeveloped characters. Get back to work.

Person #1: Man, somethin’s telling me I should be revising. [Stares at manuscript on computer screen. Computer stares back.] OK, how should I revise? Hmmmm ... Oh, wait, I wonder what’s happening over on Nathan’s Blog? [Person #1 collapses manuscript into the bottom of computer screen, zips over to Nathan’s Blog.] Interesting, interesting ... Ha!Ha! Funny ... Oh, I gotta add something. [Type, type, for half an hour, including actual REVISING and posting.] Oh, man, I should revise my novel. Oh, wait, I forgot to check Twitter. Interesting, interesting. Ha!Ha! [Person #1 tweets and re-tweets.]

Person #3, the Muse: Writers and revisers certainly teach me patience! I need a drink. Is there a cocktail party around here? Maybe I can inspire the bartender to name a drink after me or something.

Three hours later:

Person #1: Man, where’d the time go? I should have been revising. [Person #1 drinks a mocha latte, types furiously for hours ... or watches TV and calls it a day.]

Person #3, the Muse: I hate being the Muse. I spend more time standing around, waiting, trying to get people to listen to me. Seriously. I need a drink.

Marilyn Peake said...

The Real Life of a Reviser

Person #1: Damn. I need to revise again today, and I have an incredible migraine ... Oh yeah, that would be from revising yesterday.

Person #2: [Oh wait, there is no person #2. Person #1 is the reviser, alone in their office, which is messy, by the way, from months of neglect while revising.]

Person #3: I’m the Muse. Quit your whinin’ and get back to work.

Persons #4 through #7: Yeah, what she said. We’re your woefully underdeveloped characters. Get back to work.

Person #1: Man, somethin’s telling me I should be revising. [Stares at manuscript on computer screen. Computer stares back.] OK, how should I revise? Hmmmm ... Oh, wait, I wonder what’s happening over on Nathan’s Blog? [Person #1 collapses manuscript into the bottom of computer screen, zips over to Nathan’s Blog.] Interesting, interesting ... Ha!Ha! Funny ... Oh, I gotta add something. [Type, type, for half an hour, including actual REVISING and posting.] Oh, man, I should revise my novel. Oh, wait, I forgot to check Twitter. Interesting, interesting. Ha!Ha! [Person #1 tweets and re-tweets.]

Person #3, the Muse: Writers and revisers certainly teach me patience! I need a drink. Is there a cocktail party around here? Maybe I can inspire the bartender to name a drink after me or something.

Three hours later:

Person #1: Man, where’d the time go? I should have been revising. [Person #1 drinks a mocha latte, types furiously for hours ... or watches TV and calls it a day.]

Person #3, the Muse: I hate being the Muse. I spend more time standing around, waiting, trying to get people to listen to me. Seriously. I need a drink.

terryd said...

Thanks, Nathan. I've been trying to find a way to reduce the pressure of first-drafting, and this does the trick nicely.

Or maybe it was the cocktails.

Pat said...

I raise my glass of wine. (okay, it's really an Amp Sugar Free lemonade--I'm at work after all)

A toast, everyone. To revising!

traceybaptiste said...

Hold up. There are cocktail parties somewhere?

D. G. Hudson said...

Marilyn - liked your take on the private side of revising.

I'm not a big fan of cocktail parties - they challenge the deep-thinking writer to become a shallow-thinking conversationalist. On the other hand, a party is a good place to practice being vaguely concise.

Nathan Bransford said...

Man, I guess the world needs more cocktail parties. Let's make it happen. Could world peace be far behind?

David said...

Hmm, where does one find these deep-thinking writers?

Marilyn Peake said...

Hear, hear, Nathan! Here's a toast to your idea for a cocktail party:
Toast #1 ... and here's a toast to your idea that world peace could follow:
Toast #2.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, that was beautiful.

(Where do you get the ideas for your revisions?)

jessi said...

Oh, wow. This actually made me spit my beer out, it was so funny.

Then it made me sad, because I'm a professional reviser, just not published, and I haven't been to a cocktail party in over ten years.

But then I read it again, laughed again, and decided I'd have my own cocktail party while revising later tonight. Thanks for the laugh. :)

Anonymous said...

You glossed over the part where they tell you ALL the details of their would-be revision. And then ask you if you would write it and they will share the profits.

Must be that fifth drink....

Em-Musing said...

Are you sure?

Kathryn Magendie said...

*laughing!*

Malia Sutton said...

Thank you. I needed a laugh today.

Herema said...

cute. I like.

A reviser died and, arriving at the pearly gates, wondered why all the revisers who died and went to heaven were chained to their computers. The keeper of the gate showed him the other place which was much warmer, but all the revisers there were chained to their computers as well.

"There is no difference between...?" the reviser started to ask.

"Sure there is - those in heaven get published."

I love your posts Nathan. TNX for making our obsession a little lighter.

btw - my latest revision has a file name of (book title)crap.doc. I promised my computer (my person #1 in my virtual cocktail conversations) that this was the LAST one. ever. ever. til next time

Elaine AM Smith said...

Page 1 of my wip has had 97 separate revisions (large or small), perhaps I could run through them all with you over a cocktail? ;)

The Red Angel said...

Haha wow, pretty hilarious conversation. :P

Thanks for sharing!

Nancy Coffelt said...

Just finished a huge revision.

I feel like a stuffed toy after my little dogs have finished ripping its insides out.

Guts regenerate, right?

J. T. Shea said...

I've been to cocktail parties more likely to cause World War Three than world peace!

J. T. Shea said...

Some writer should start a blog called THE REVISIONIST or maybe THE REVISIONARY or THE REVISION QUEST or THE 20/20 REVISION or THE REVISION THING? But what exactly was in that cocktail?

Joanna van der Gracht de Rosado said...

Even after six revisions, not even I think this comment seems funny, cute, witty or any of the things I'm striving for. But I do have a story about revision and cocktail parties that is definitely non-fiction. (If you don't already know this, I'm 57... holding my own, but no longer a cute young thing)

Anyway, I'm at a cocktail party with my daughter, Maggie (who is a very cute young thing) We're speaking with a friend who asks what we're doing these days... I sigh and tell him I'm still revising my novel.

Suddenly a 2010 version of the 70s lounge lizard pushes his way into our circle, looks at Maggie and says,"You're revising a novel. That is the sexiest thing I've ever heard." Maggie rolls her eyes, points to me, looks at him and says,
"Whatever... but this lady here is your sex kitten." He's turned purple by now but neither of us is letting him off the hook. I put my arm through my daughter's and as we move away, I say, "Never judge a book by its cover!"

Stephanie O. said...

Amen, brotha.

I want to thank you. I sent you my query Saturday and you responded by Monday. It was a rejection, but I appreciate the speed. As your reward (or punishment?), below is the Worst Query Letter Humanly Possible. If you find it theraputic to print the letter out and burn it, I will not object.
Seriously: enjoy.

Dear Whats Your Face,

Hi! My name is Firstname Lastname, and I’m a brilliant genius. I JUST finished writing the next great American novel. It’s about this guy who goes on a journey and then walks into town as a stranger. It is a comic tragedy, and it’s kind of long, but not TOO long. My book, which is extreemely well writen, rivals such famous authors as J. K. Rowling, John Grisham, and whomever wrote 1984.

I personally guarantee that you will love my book; everyone else whom has read it so far loves it. I live in New York City, I have a Chihuahua named Skip, and I once bowled a perfect game. For pictures of my dog, please visit my Facebook: www.facebook.com/firstnamelastname

My Grandma says Coming Soon is verrry exciting, and my dog liked it, too, after I read it aloud to him (which just shows you my dedication]. As you can see, I've already included the entire manuscript, because I knew you just weren't serious in your submission guidelines. But I'll be ever-so happy to send you another copy if you need one, which you probably will, because I just know youll want to represent it. It's the best thing written since Lord of the Ring, and I write exactly like Charles Dikens and Steven King. But you'd better respond fast!! I queried twenty-seven hundred other agents at the same time.

Hopefully yours,

Firstname Lastname

Kate Evangelista said...

I love it! Made me smile on a day when smiles are a little hard to come by. :-)

Susannah Nichols said...

Constant reader, rare commenter, but this one rang really true with me. As wise writing gurus say "the secret to GOOD writing is RE-writing."

And as far as the brackets go, all I can say is that Coach K appears to be aging exceptionally well.

Donna Hole said...

Yeah; and professional reviser sounds so much more appealing than aspiring writer. (hehehe)

I could even call myself an editor; I've spent more hours editing and revising and kicking myself than I did actually writing the novels.

Sadly, the IRS disagrees its failed self employment and won't give me any reimbursement.

.........dhole

Corinne said...

*loved it*

Lily Cate said...

Ah, when are we ever NOT revising? Did that happen at one time? I can't remember.
I have reached the point where my reward for finishing the current revision is getting to write something new.
Which is kind of like eating half of a chocolate cake as a reward for going to the gym three days in a row... but hey, I'm addicted.

Kelly Wittmann said...

Hilarious, Nathan. Thanks for the laugh.

foolery said...

So very funny -- thanks for the laugh. No go back and read it again substituting the verb "to bullsh**" for "to revise," and you'll have my life.

WordWrangler said...

Hi. My name is Donna...and I'm a compulsive Reviser.

My journey started years ago...

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