Intro-Confession: I’ve never edited a whole ms before. Not that’s mine, anyway. I’ve been a beta-reader for others, but my own? SHEESH. Thar could be a snake in ma boot, and I might miss it. Ouch.
Backstory: The “first completed draft” (a term I use loosely since I do edit/rewrite as I go) —all 128K messy, astonishing words of it— was done a day before our local and large writers conference. For once, I hit a writing goal! (applause please) However, I canceled a pitch appt because, dang it, the draft was just that: a DRAFT, aka not revised, not edited. —> THIS————>
Percolation: So, then came the Sitting of the Manuscript, aka percolating, to rest my gray matter from it and “do other writing.” (meaning, I worked on my business/photography, and resurrected sewing skills for baby gifts) Then a long vacay in the merry month of May
took me away from work, and coming back…found my printed ms scattered all over the carpet by my desk: my lonely dog had lain on the ms box and made an incredible mess.
I shuddered and studiously avoided looking under the table for, oh, about two more months.
Pressurized & Stirred Gently: My spouse gently asked when I was going to…you know, uh, the book? My friends asked. Heck, my massage therapist even asked (she wants to read it). Growing disgusted, deeply, with myself, I began to Clean the Office So I Could Edit the Book. And I cleaned all around those pages. Finally, I grabbed an empty green plastic bin, a new and pretty one I’d emptied of…something…in my cleanliness, and plunked on the floor to tackle the mess.
Wow. That was relatively easy and oddly satisfying! Enter hanging folders and organization—by chapter, mostly. Faint stirrings of pre-editing/revising excitement ensued. And yet, the Green Box has gone untouched for a couple of weeks. Or so.
Sneaking Suspicion: An unsettled, uneasy feeling in my gut. Furtive glances at the Green Box under the table, which is labeled on top with a full sheet “Current Ms” – just in case I forget what’s in there. Things have gone from procrastination to full-blown avoidance, pretty sure. But I’ve got good reasons for, um, not doing what I’m supposed to do.
Sample of Excuses: (a) I’ve not been feeling great (that chronic pain/fatigue increasing) and (b) not sleeping well while adjusting to Little Beastie the Cpap mask. (c) We’ve had a string of company, including my BFF who is an avid reader and has assigned herself to be my personal cheering section of one.
“Where is your book?” she asked, following me into the less-messy Bear Pit that is my office.
“Here,” I said proudly, pulling the Green Box from beneath the table. “All ready to edit! I’m going to do a read-through and make some notes first, er, soon.” Then I distracted her by showing her “character art” and “research.”
“Well, when you’ve edited it, I still want to read it,” she said, standing up to exit the pit. “When you get it done.” She is a persistent creature, darn her. Pressure on.
Revelation! Furtive glances at Box again. Unsettled feeling in my gut. What if…er…hmm. Could I be afraid to edit my book? Okay…yeah, the truth hurts. But afraid. why???
Perhaps, as a former therapist suggested (maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned the therapist part): “Could you be afraid of success?” Well, HECK no. I would LOVE to experience real success, for a change. Sounds like fun, actually!
“Why” is for truly important questions. Like why some scientists say we came from single-celled slime-balls in a primordial soup. Like why hand-dryers in public restrooms are jet-powered and motion-activated, yet getting the toilet paper to roll-down from the container nearly takes an act of God and the patience of Himself, as well.
Forget the WHY and move on to the HOW.
Actually, I have no idea HOW this editing process will go for me, given I am a Revising/Editing Virgin. I’ve printed out a few sources as guidelines. Another very good friend of mine, an Indie-published author of several novels, insists that I will “find out what process works for me and what doesn’t,” by just DOING it. And that “everyone’s is different; there is no formula for revising and editing one’s book.”
So that should be a good thing since my brain eschews formulas like my dog spits out lettuce. Pa-tooie.
One Last Step: Tonight I was supposed to start the ms read-through, and make notes. But…the table right next to my desk that makes that “L” work space I like, was still stacked with papers—the bane of my life!!– until a few minutes ago (okay, like an hour ago). Is that procrastination again and wh–Again with the whys. Screw ’em.
Shame, disgust, insecurity—gave way to action. I swept the pile to another surface (sigh) but the table is now CLEAR to launch…or is ready to set if we keep with the food-ish metaphors. The next course of action was, of course, to blog about this…of COURSE. Because sharing. Next, I’ll begin. I’d planned to stay up all night! I’ll…yawn. YAWN. Boy, is it late even for me.
But, hey—I am ready now. Fear swept aside, mostly. So for now…