A Pile of Papers & Me

I know that some authors count revisions. They will claim, as Mem Fox once told me in an interview, “I did 49 drafts for KOALA LOU before the book was ready to be published.”

My first thought was, “Wow, she counted.”

Second thought, “Man, that’s one of my favorite picture books of all time.”

Nowadays with computers and instantaneous edits, combined with the way I work, it’s impossible for me to put a number on it. I can rarely read anything I’ve written without wanting to make changes. So I revise as I go, constantly; I backtrack as I move forward, even if though some advise against it. I usually avoid printing out the ever-changing manuscript. Because I’d only have to do it again, and again, a pointless exercise and a waste of trees.

Nonetheless, over time, various versions do get printed, sent out, revised, and so on, to the point where I eventually accumulate a stack of old pages.

A while back I made my final corrections on BEFORE YOU GO (July, 2012). It’s due out in a month and I’ve got to live with whatever mistakes remain. In this photo, I sit with a pile of old versions, notebooks, scribbled ideas, rough drafts, grocery lists, typed revisions . . . along with an uncorrected Advance Reader’s Copy in my left hand.

A photo that I figured it might an impress a student somewhere. It’s the same old lesson though: You want anything in life, you’ve got to work for it. I guess in today’s lottery culture you’ve got to say that out loud every once in a while.

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