Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Editing – the Agony and the Ecstasy! (Well, it’s mostly agony but the title sounded good…)
Having submitted my MS to the publisher I met at the New Jersey Romance Writers’ conference in October 2008, I was thrilled to hear in early January that they really, really like it. Yes, she said really twice. (Watch out, there’s a ‘but’ coming.) BUT, they want me to make changes and resubmit before they can offer me a contract. My initial ecstasy at the “really, really” was immediately tempered by the editor’s requested revisions. She asked me to write a prologue and work on some POV and showing vs. telling issues. Interestingly, her suggestion for a prologue, a bit of back story illustrating the heroine’s motivation, was something I had previously considered and rejected. A while back I had actually written the same scene but felt it didn’t work and filed it away. When I dug it out and reread it, I realized it sucked, but was able to salvage a line or two. Lesson: never delete something you’re written, no matter how bad; you never know when you may be able to recycle. The POV and showing/telling problems are more complicated. I am very attached to my words and find the rewriting process tedious and quite frankly, painful. I have to drag my body over to the computer when I get home from my full-time day job (you know, the one that pays the rent), after I’ve finished procrastinating by watching up to two hours of TV. (Local, national and international news, plus a news magazine – hey, everything is a potential source of inspiration for the next novel and one has to know what’s going on in the world, right?) Other excellent sources of procrastination (in case you need a few suggestions): cleaning out that closet you haven’t gotten to in the last three years, calling that elderly aunt whom you can’t stand but really do owe a call, organizing the photos from last year’s vacation, arranging the earrings in your jewelry box in color and size order, plus any number of other essential tasks that just can’t wait another second! Now that I’ve finally made it to my desk, I draw a long sigh and get to work. I had decided to go through the MS page by page, hunting for the dreaded head-hopping and ‘too much telling’ sections. So far, I’ve gotten about two-thirds of the way through the first phase: fixing POV issues. Along the way, I’ve stuck ‘Post-It Notes’ in all the spots that I may have to go back to for showing/telling revision. I’m averaging about one ‘Post-It’ every ten pages or so. That means by the time I’m finished with Phase One, there will probably be about thirty ‘Post-Its’, many requiring a major rewrite. Oh joy! The angel on one shoulder tells me to keep plugging along. The finished product will be better than I’d ever imagined and I can look forward to that glorious day when I will see my book in print with a fabulous cover. The little guy hanging out on the other shoulder keeps saying, “That editor doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about; your words are fine the way they are! And don’t you have another closet to clean out?” Well, it’s time for me to stop procrastinating (oh yes, I forgot, blogging is another wonderful way to avoid the MS waiting patiently on my desk) and listen to that angel. Now, whom have you been listening to lately? The angel or the other fellow?