Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Falling in Love, Again, With Your Book


So, you may have read in a previous post that I finished a first draft of a novel. After I typed THE END, I had a glass of wine and then I shoved the book into the proverbial drawer, meaning I closed my computer file and pinky-swore, with myself, not to open it for 2-4 weeks.

That time range is entirely arbitrary. I wanted enough time so that I stopped thinking about it every day. I waited four weeks. I could have waited six months and really seen it with fresh eyes, but I am antsy and was very curious to see if what I’d been working on for that last nine months or so could actually be called a book.

A note on my process: Whenever I sat down to write, completed outline in hand, I would only re-read the chapter I was currently working on to get myself into the world of the book. I did not start from the beginning. This means that there are parts of the book I hadn’t seen for nearly nine months.

Me editing my book after drinking a grande mocha with extra whip.
Another process note: I write entirely on my computer, save for the occasional note jotted on a napkin or restaurant receipt. The first time I printed the book was when I finished the book.

I can tell you, it’s quite a wonderful thing to actually hold the printed book in my hands. At close to 250 pages, it’s got heft, baby. It’s as though the book suddenly became real.
 
Because I hadn’t read the early parts in so long, there were moments when I truly was re-discovering it. And re-discoveries can be fun. At times, it's like finding a $10 bill in a jeans pocket. It’s the unexpected metaphor that totally works. It's the theme you’ve managed to weave through that long middle part of the book that connects all the dots.

Sometimes, though, you can re-discover rocks and gum and dead bugs, in your kids’ jeans pockets, or your husband’s. This happened with my book, too, and it happened pretty quickly into the re-reading process. Sticky parts that I left alone to deal with in revision, now had to be dealt with.

My initial plan was to read the book the entire way through, as a regular old reader, with no red pen. How long would you guess that lasted? One chapter, folks. I just couldn't resist the urge. So, I got the pen and settled in for several days of writing in the margins. Soon, I took my marked-up copy back to my computer and made all the changes.

Now, I’ve handed the book off to an editor friend, and I am waiting. The waiting is agonizing. The crazy hope that she’ll say, "Wow, this is a first draft? I can’t believe it! It’s so amazing!" is there in the back of my head, but I know that won’t happen. It doesn’t happen, with anyone. So, I’m waiting to get the damage report, to find out if she thinks I need a tire rotation or an entirely new engine.

I’ll still have a lot of work to do, regardless, but I’m looking forward to it. I really like editing, always have. And the fact is, you can’t edit the book without writing the book! I’ll let you know more once I get the detailed list of repairs.

2 comments:

  1. Yeah, I would have waited up until the first time I saw something wrong--typo, grammatical error, just plain bad writing--until the red pen came out, too. I never manage to read it straight through without marking things up. And it is a grand thing to hold that book, isn't it? I hope your editor friend has great news for you!

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