The great Connie Willis says, "I rewrite grocery lists." Me, too. I have a completed novel now, and I'm almost through my first revision. First. There will not be just one. There will be at least two, perhaps three, then more to come with editorial input.
There's a school of thought in publishing that a writer should write fast, submit immediately, and rewrite only on editorial request. Not only do I think this is horrible advice, but I think it's a direct road to really, really crappy work. I particularly abhor this kind of misguidance when it's offered to new writers. They hear established authors make this pronouncement, and they doubt what their instincts are telling them: That good work means hard work. Not hasty, rushed, hurried work, but thoroughly polished and considered prose.
Who among us writes a beautiful sentence every time? I don't know a single writer with that sort of talent. The great ones--like the incomparable Connie, or the magnificent Stephen King--are inveterate rewriters, and it shows in their work.
One challenge I face when not writing under contract is the lack of a deadline. When I write a novel on spec--meaning without a contract, trusting that a publisher will buy the book--I'm free to dawdle, play, tweak, revise, explore . . . all things that slow down the process. Sometimes I think I write better books that way, though I certainly don't write them faster!
Of course I love being under contract. I love having deadlines, knowing there's a day when I have to let the manuscript pass from my clutches into those of an editor. I also like knowing for certain that the book will be published, and that I will be paid.
But I do love to revise. When the first draft is finished, the heavy lifting is done, the characters are at least half-realized, the plotting is complete. Rewriting feels like play to me, an indulgence. I could do it forever. I won't, because I also like to see my books get into print! But the rewriting phase is like a reward for the hard work of the first draft.
Not everyone feels this way. I have plenty of colleagues who love the first pass through a story, and have to force themselves back for the revision. They do those revisions, though--at least the good ones do--because they're necessary. And because these are disciplined writers who don't want to attach their names to bad work.
Feel free to argue with me on this one! I promise you a (revised) response.