On a previous occasion I was writing about all the various ways in which I was avoiding doing the editing on my novel. Two conclusions you, gentle readers, helped me come to were: 1. I needed to set deadlines, and 2. I really was doing everything possible to avoid editing seeing how I was even willing to write about avoiding editing instead of editing.
Now, while I know the second comment was made in jest, I understood it was also true. I really needed to get over myself and get to work. What I needed was a deadline of some sort that would give me something to shoot for.
I’m not very good with arbitrary deadlines, ones that have no real meaning, because I know that nothing is going to happen if I miss it. With nothing dependent on me finishing I can always find an excuse not to get something done. Hell I’ve even got a built in excuse that I can use any time I want, a serious chronic pain condition.
What I needed was some sort of real target to shoot for. I was able to write the damn thing in the first place, so I don’t see why I shouldn’t be able to edit it. No matter what my body or my health dictates, I can and will get this done. It may just take a little more morphine.
I decided the time had come for drastic action. Thanks to a writer over at Desicritics I discovered a publisher in India that has just started publishing fiction and who has a distributor in Canada and the United States.
Well, I’ve had a query letter on standby for about a month so I finished it off and inserted the necessary names and salutations in the proper spots. Conveniently enough, I’ve had the first three chapters ready to go for ages. The motivation was there as that’s what most people want to see to start with. So it was just a matter of one last check for typos (found three) and away we go.
After checking their web site carefully for anything pertaining to submissions I decided to go ahead and submit it electronically. The letter got transferred into my private email account and chapters one through three were added as attachments.
After a quick once over to make sure nothing sprang to my eye as an obvious mistake, the mouse arrow hesitated at “Send” for only a second, then a click of the button and the die was cast.
This means I have a deadline. It could be tomorrow, next week, six months from now, or even never. I don’t know. But whatever it is I have to have the manuscript ready for when they do respond, which means I have to get cracking.
It’s amazing what a little fear will do for you. I’ve gone through three more chapters since I wrote that letter. So instead of about a chapter a month for editing I’m doing about a chapter per day. I find it hard to do more than that at a time without losing focus and being tempted to skim read after a while.
I have a very simple method of editing; I read the chapter out loud to myself. If something sounds wrong to my ear, I try to rewrite it until it sounds better. I’m also keeping an eye out for continuity.
Two-thirds of this first draft was written within one month, so there were some places where as I wrote I expanded on the story and put in details that were left out of earlier chapters. For example, in the first chapter it sounds like one of the characters has living brothers and sisters, but they ended up being dead long before the events in this story took place in chapter three. Therefore any references to them in earlier chapters had to modified or cut.
Than of course there are character names. I was pretty good at keeping most of them the same, but there was one poor character who was renamed almost every time she made an appearance. The problem was that I wasn’t sure how often she’d be appearing in the story, so every time she poked her nose in I’d forgotten her name
Thankfully she seams to have been the only one whose name I wasn’t able to keep track of. Four-letter names have got to be the worst. But when I was a kid I used to forget how to spell “of” and some things just don’t change. The good thing is that because I know I’m susceptible to doing that sort of thing, I keep an eye out and am able to usually catch all of them.
The nicest thing that’s come out of this is I’ve made a discovery. I’ve discovered that I’ve written a really good book that deserves to be published. I don’t know what I expected when I started to reread it the first time, but it was weird. I felt like I was reading someone else’s work.
As long as I can keep feeling like this, that my work is good, I will have no problem in getting this done. Even if there is a letter sitting in my inbox from an editor this very second I have every confidence that I could send off a complete manuscript by Monday.
Of course everything is subject to change, dependent on my mood and the quality of what I’m editing that day. Tomorrow I may think it’s a worthless piece of crap that should never see the light of day, but I’m not going to worry about that. Today I will enjoy feeling like an author, and edit as many chapters as I can before my eyeballs fall out.