Triskaidecaphobia… The Editing Edition

I was told by a friend that Ernest Hemingway once edited the last page of one of his novels over 150 times till he had it right.

Well.  Chapter 13 of the Book 1 reissue has just exacted such torture on me.

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For the love of little green pickles I just could NOT get that chapter to work right.  Every trick and redesign of “Dangerous Hours” refused to play along.  Nay, it revolted against me!   It is an important and I needed to get it right.  It had to sound right as well as look right.  One change lead to a half dozen corrections, then it didn’t sound right so I had to go over it again and again and again.

Oh! for the tranquility of writing the first draft again!  Editing is not my favorite task as a writer, but it is essential.  You, the readers, have entrusted your imaginations to me, and I need to be a good caretaker of that trust.  Unfortunately I now know how writers become alcoholics, I think. I really began to wonder how I let this book out into public like this.

Then I had to remember, this was as good as I could do at the time.  I now have the benefit of over 1200 more pages written to the saga now.  Yes, you heard correction.  That’s 4 more novels worth of stuff.  Not that all of it’s going to release any time soon, but it’s there and growing.

But, after no less than 125 passes through that thirteenth chapter… it’s ready.  Redundancies gone and bad phraseology banished to the tune of 500 words!  Furthermore, when I realized that I could not envision the scene from my own writing, I backtracked and found better ways to explain the images I saw in my own head.  Talk about a gauntlet for my creative soul!

But forward we go.  I’m locking down chapters after my editor, who should be nominated for sainthood for many reasons beyond just tearing my work apart, has done a final pass through.  That means very soon, I will be moving forward and fixing even more stuff.  The struggle will have been worth it in the end.  I am proud of the work again after having severe doubts about my own efforts.

And just so you know, gentle readers, all authors struggle with impostor syndrome.  Even ones like Stephen King who doubt their skill if they did not have their name to get readers.  Don’t believe me?  See Richard Bachmann.  Game, set, match.  It’s a universal for anyone who wants to be good at their craft regardless of what it is.

I also was given some very good advice by fellow author Kerry Nietz who reminded me that I should be careful on the re-edit and to watch that I don’t lose my voice.  A sentiment I do agree with and am now redoubling efforts to preserve the original tone and not let familiarity dry out the work like an overcooked turkey.

So, patience please, and if you can find it in yourself to extend a little grace as I muddle through, I promise to make the wait worth your while.

 

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