The Circle

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Remember The Lion King? The song “The Circle of Life”? All the feels and goosebumps—even though some biologist actually sued Disney over the way the hyenas were drawn.

True story. Some people have way too much time on their hands.

Wish I was one of them.

There’s a circle of life in writing, too. It isn’t actually called “The Circle of Life.” It doesn’t have a cool name, or any name at all, so let’s just call it Ethan. That way, when we’re talking about it, several other concepts won’t come running—I’m not a cat wrangler.

Ethan is the endless cycle of writing and revisions, a concept near and dear to my heart right now, since I’m currently in the official revision process with two books. There’s also an unofficial revision process where every time I read something I’ve written, I tweak or tighten or fine tune—my own little corner in the world of OCD.

YA Author Tom Hoover on The Circle of Life in WritingLike The Lion King, in that scene where the witch doctor stands on a rocky outcropping and holds little Simba high so all the animals can see, the Ethan process has a definite beginning. It starts when you put the first word of your idea to paper.

Which is why, again, like The Lion King, with each new YA novel, I re-enact that scene with a blank sheet of paper on the roof of my house. My neighbors are afraid of me.

Unlike The Lion King, the Ethan process doesn’t have a nice clean ending—not until the book is on a shelf somewhere, and sometimes not even then. Some authors have gone back after a book is published and revised and rewrote parts of it. Published a new or extended edition. Though for most of us, seeing the book on the shelf is when the credits roll, and people file out of the theater.

Pick up your trash, people!

Sorry. That had to be said. Don’t get me started on cell phones.

But I digress.

Ethan is a relentless monkey on the back of all serious writers. Because we know, deep down, that we could do it better with just one more pass. We fiddle. We massage. We slash and burn. And we do it until somebody stops us—agent, editor, publisher, spouse, friend, the police, Star Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy.

And someone has to stop us.

We can’t stop ourselves.

Because writing gives us life.

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