Archives: Editing

Drudgery

Completing a manuscript and typing “The End” is always a great feeling. It’s an accomplishment, the culmination of endless invested hours. But “The End” isn’t really the end. Not even close.

Once you find a home for the book a host of new tasks descend upon you. We’re assuming for the purposes of this post that the book has a publisher, and is not being self-published. That option carries with related, but divergent necessities. Where to start?

Editing

Editing hurts. If sculpting is removing all the bits of marble that aren’t the statue, then editing is cutting away all the words that aren’t the story. Except the sculptor didn’t create that block of marble first; someone else delivered it to his studio. When I’m editing I’m modifying something I’ve already gone to the trouble of creating.

Sometimes those modifications are easy. “What the hell was I thinking? That makes no sense and contradicts what something that comes later.” Slash, gone. Or revised to fit. Other times the process is more difficult. It might be a particularly good scene. Or it provides greater insight into a character. Or I happen to find it clever and amusing. But is it necessary?

Editing Purgatory

I suppose I should write about Father’s Day. But I’m busy enjoying it. Why write about it? Instead, I want to jot down a few thoughts about editing, since I’m currently wallowing in editing purgatory. Feel my pain.

Imagine you’ve finished creating a jigsaw puzzle. You’re happy with the picture. It’s attractive and you like the complexity of the manner in which the pieces slot together. Now imagine you get some notes with a few requests for changes.

Okay, stepping out of the metaphor for a moment, this is what happens after the publisher hands your manuscript over to an editor. You get suggestions. Requests that this happen sooner in the story, that that bit gets cut, that this description is excessive. Etc.

So, returning to the metaphor, you attempt to comply. You remove a piece or two, add one, move a few around. But once you’ve done that most of the rest of the pieces no longer slot neatly together and your picture collapses amid a cascade of disconnects. You need to adjust everything in order to once again present an attractive picture. And you can only hope that it resembles the picture you had in mind when you first began creating it.

It can become rather frustrating. But once you see that puzzle in a shiny new box on the toy store shelf, that frustration reduces to a dim memory. All the frantic juggling you’ve done was worth it the effort. And you can enjoy the moment. Until the next time.

I’m hoping to get that point again soon, after I’ve clambered out of this purgatorial pit. For now, I’m going to let Father’s Day distract me. Tomorrow, back to ascending the Sisyphean slope.

Proof Reading

20140126_155047_2I am reading the proof copy of my novel, loose pages stacked within the almost complete cover – (still lacking ISBN and bar code.) Tangible proof that I do indeed have a book on the cusp of publication. Cool. Feels good, but I am getting my fill of reading it. I’ve lost count of the number of drafts, revisions, edits, and proof-readings I’ve gone through. This, however, is the last pass. I do hope I manage to catch every misplaced apostrophe, dropped article, or missing comma.

It requires a lot of effort to ensure the prose looks effortless. I take full responsibility for anything that slips by.

The Show Must Go On

13 - 1 (1)Twice daily visits to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to visit my newborn daughter eat up a lot of the day. It is terrific to observe her progress. She’s getting bigger every day and should be coming home in, perhaps, a week.

Fantastic. But I still need to keep writing.