“They” say that writers are never quite done editing their novel, that there can always be some bit of tweaking or full on rewriting to perform. But at some point you need to know when it’s time to end the rewrite process. I’m not even sure I know when that moment is exactly, after rewriting a few chapters, deleting stuff, and having a professional editor go over it.
Honestly, I hate reading something on my laptop. When I tried to use my iPad to read a book I purchased, I never bothered to finish. There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned book printed on something called paper. Know what I mean? I know there will be a time soon when everything will be digital. I know there will be a time when we will no longer have printed newspapers circulated. But, I still subscribe to the Los Angeles Times and I have it delivered to my door. I can’t help it. Call me old-fashioned.
Nonetheless, I do read a ton of stuff online. But when it comes to trying to see if my novel is finally polished, I have to print it out. So, I killed some trees after my editor sent me my revised novel. I’ve got two novels currently being edited by two separate editors. Yeah, I know…I wasn’t expecting to do them at the same time. It just so happens that things fell into place sort of all at once. I wouldn’t advise trying to edit two books at once, FYI.
Anyway, one is done; my second one I wrote just after my daughter was born. The first novel still currently being worked on my other editor, I finished back in 2010. You never know when it’s time to resurrect a manuscript you set aside because of personal reasons. I shelved my first novel because it was painful, but I dusted it off after attending a writer’s conference at the end of January. An agent there asked to see it. Which of course, doesn’t necessarily guarantee anything. Needless to say, using painful experiences to fuel your writing can be cathartic, but it doesn’t make it any less difficult.
And even though my second novel isn’t something that should make me anxious, I’m finding myself feeling nervous having to read it all the way through after the edits. I don’t know why. Maybe because I fear after stepping away from it and looking at it with a fresh pair of eyes, that I might have to go back and fix things still? Maybe I’m worried that despite it being completed it is still not good enough? Perhaps I worry about my own inner critique, the one that is never quite satisfied with my own work. Will my inner voice tell me it’s no good?
As I’ve said before, and have heard many writers reiterate, that writing a novel or novels is the easy part. The challenge is the revisions that follow and knowing when it’s truly finished. Inside, we all have a gut feeling, and I think we’ll know when we know. So, as I said, I killed a few trees today and had it printed and bound at FedEx. This latest revision puts my novel at 244 pages including the cover, approximately 64,000 words which is shorter than it originally was, but that’s okay. I printed it one-sided as opposed to double sided because it’s easier to make notes this way.
I also completed reading The Shack, by William Paul Young yesterday and have moved on to Damned, by Chuck Palahniuk. Juxtaposing both books, one can’t be more different from the other. Young writes from a Christian perspective about a character who talks to God. The plot’s tone comes across as preachy. Meanwhile, Palahniuk writes from the perspective of a dead and cynical 13-year-old girl who discovers she didn’t make it to heaven.
You might think my taste in books is a bit peculiar, but what can I say? I’m a rather odd one. Sometimes I crave sushi, other times I crave American. I enjoy my steak medium rare, and then eventually decide to see what a vegetarian diet feels like for a week, just for the hell of it. You can’t put me in a box, that’s for sure, and when I’m filling out job applications, I often have to check more than one box in the ethnicity section. After all, I’m an American Mutt as diverse as most of you.
The Bottom Line:
And now, with nervous jitters and all, I think it’s time to sit Palahniuk’s Damned down for now, hoping I’m not too damned as I crack open my own book. This week, I’ll be reading my own novel. Let’s hope it’s complete. If not, well, there are always more rewrites.