Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Editing Time

It's that time again, when you're doing the edits your publisher sent you to get a new book into its final shape. Actually, I don't have a huge amount of work to do, and so far the editing process has gone well.  What has helped the process, though, I think, is the break I took from the book while waiting to hear back from the publisher after I sent it to him.

I tend to write slowly, and I don't do drafts. I re-write and re-write as I go along, and keep circling back to do revisions while inching ahead in a story.  I don't push ahead very far (or at all) until I'm at least halfway satisfied with what I have in the book to that point.  I sometimes wish I could work differently, by daily word counts or by cutting loose and doing a series of whole drafts, but I don't seem to be able to.  I just...can't.  So it goes; I've resigned myself to my method and come to accept that for better or worse, I'll never be the most prolific writer in the world.  Still, one thing I like: when I've reached the last page of a novel after doing all that revising throughout, I do have a book that reads pretty cleanly, without much waste.  Or so I've been told.  And such is the case this time around.  But there are some things to cut in the book, and a few things to add, and one or two points that could use clarification. Standard operating procedure. And this is where the break I mentioned comes into play; between the time I emailed my publisher the book and the time I got back his edits, three months or so had elapsed, and not once in that time did I glance at my story.  I put the thing out of my mind and concentrated on non-fiction pieces and preparation for the next book.  

Three months.  It was enough time to rid my system of the book, as it were, and take the adequate distance from it. You need that distance.  You need that time, some amount of time, after finishing a book.  Now I'm reading through it again, and I have the detachment I need to regard it with dispassion.  It's mine, this book, okay, whatever, but I try to regard it almost as if it's not.

Editing, sort of like revenge, is an activity best accomplished cold.

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