Tag Archives: completing edits

In The Hallway

I recently read an article from an author who described the feeling of being ‘between novels’ as being ‘in the hallway‘ – the door to one book has closed, and the door to her next one hasn’t quite opened up yet. I know how she feels, sort of.

I finished the first pass of edits on ‘Emmeline’ (or whatever it’ll end up being called!) on Friday of last week. Soon, I want to begin a second pass. I have a ‘deadline’ (I’m mentally making it seem a lot tougher than, in reality, it actually is) of mid-October to get it back to my agent, and then we’ll see whether I’ve done enough to get the story ready for its first foray into the big bad world of publishing.

I’m in the hallway, except it’s between edits, not books.

Feels much the same, though.

Photo Credit: Stuck in Customs via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Stuck in Customs via Compfight cc

I really want to get started now – mid-October isn’t all that far away, after all. I feel like I’ve done so much work on the book over the past few weeks that surely this second pass of edits will be easy (but that’s a dangerous way to think, which is why I know I’m not ready to get stuck in yet). My mind is still full of Emmeline and her world, the people she meets and the places she sees and the battles she fights – and that’s another reason I know it’s too soon to go over her story. I need to be away from it for a little while, just long enough for it not to seem gloopy when I go back to it.

Gloopy? What’s that, then?

Well, it’s like this. When I try to edit something I’ve written before I’m ready, it’s a bit like trying to walk across quicksand. I get panicky. I start making frankly stupid changes and getting caught up in them and their ramifications and (quite possibly) I allow myself to ignore what really needs to be done instead of what strikes me, straight off, as a superficial problem – which, of course, simply makes things massively worse, even more gloopy, and then I eventually sink. Because the first pass of edits were largely (though not all) fixing things like stupid sentences or getting rid of needless paragraphs or tightening up on description, what I’m left with now are some of the bigger issues, which have been mulling in my mind for the past few weeks as I worked. There aren’t very many big issues with the book – and none of them are unfixable – but I do need to take my time and do them right. Anxiety and panic and ‘oh my God I need to do something and get away from this!’ will not help.

Hence, the hallway. I’m strolling down it, peeking out the windows, stopping to smell the flowers (okay, so maybe it’s more like a cloister than a hallway. Fair enough), having a good old think. I have already fixed some of the foundations of the bigger problems – character motivations, removing an entire person from the story (which was so sickeningly easy, it should have been obvious to me that, like Phoebe in that Friends episode, he ‘just lifted right out’), and overall making things clearer to the reader. It seems stuff that I thought was explained perfectly clearly… wasn’t. This is the problem with writing, I guess – you get so inside your own head that you forget everyone doesn’t live there.

So, now I have a few decisions to make and some clarification to do (and I promise not to use the words ‘snap’, ‘snapped’, ‘just’, ‘then’, ‘massive’, ‘huge’ or ‘gigantic’, or the phrases ‘before she had time to think,’ ‘without thinking,’ ‘without giving herself time to think’ ever again). However, before I get there, I’ve got to ungloop myself.

So, if you’ll excuse me, I have a hallway to amble down. Catch you at the other end.


Getting (Re)Started

Life has conspired to keep me away from Le Grand WiP for the past few days. My edits have been allowed to sit, festering; my mind has been occupied with other things, like family and new responsibilities and even – rather interestingly – the faint stirrings of enthusiasm for a new idea. Or, rather, a new way of doing an old idea, really.

Today, however – well. Today’s the day I need to crack on.

Photo Credit: the Italian voice via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: the Italian voice via Compfight cc

It’s hard not to feel guilty when my other duties take me away from what I see as my primary role – in other words, getting my edits inputted as smoothly, quickly and professionally as possible, and getting them back to my agent so that she can move my book to the next level, whether that means another round of edits or starting the publishing submission process. Bringing a book to publication is a hugely long, complicated and involved thing and it’s hard to balance the need for speed with the need for quality work, particularly when life insists on getting in the way.

I’ll manage, of course. As the old saying goes: ‘if you want something done, ask a busy person.’ I am rather busy, these days! Not complaining, of course. Would I ever complain? Sheesh.

But I have had a few days off, and the best way to assuage the guilt is to get right back on the job. Restarting, though – is there a harder thing? Kicking off your enthusiasm cold, trying to grind it up to working speed, building up a head of steam behind your motivation… it would be easier to climb the Eiffel Tower backwards, blindfolded, in a pair of stilettos.

It’s got to be done, though.

Opening up your computer file is the hardest part of the day, when you’re editing. It’s like a roller-coaster that has only one long drop – you climb and climb and climb up to the great precipice, where you teeter for a while before taking the (literal) plunge, and then it’s all whoosh to the finish. Well, not quite – there are a few small ups and downs along the way, perhaps – but the toughest part for me is definitely those few moments either side of clicking my file open and watching the MS, complete with my agent’s increasingly exasperated Track Changes, appear. It feels good, in a blisteringly painful way, to deal with each of the edits in turn and watch as the Track Changes bubble vanishes from the margin, and even though some of them haven’t been dealt with yet – they’re waiting for the second pass of edits, which I’m aiming to start before too long – I realised last week that I’m over the two-thirds completed point. That’s pretty good going. Better than that, though, is this: I’ve had a quick flick through to the end of the document, and the edits get thinner and less hair-pully from this point onwards. I think, without even realising it, I’ve slogged through the hardest part already.

And guess what?

I made it. I survived.

Photo Credit: Stuck in Customs via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Stuck in Customs via Compfight cc

Okay, so maybe the fireworks are a bit premature. But you’ve got to love an optimist, right? They’re pre-emptive fireworks, which are (of course) the best kind.

Now. I’m off to make some coffee, friends, and then throw myself headlong into the day. Godspeed on your own endeavours – may they be mighty – and remember: we’ll get through it. All will be well. One step at a time.

See you all back here tomorrow for some Friday flash fiction!