Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ah! The writer’s life…

Last week was just glorious for me. The skies? Cloudy. The weather? Yucky mid-January stuff. Finances? End of the holidays sticker shock as the bills flooded in. And clients not paying their bills.

Why so happy? I spent the entire week going over the edit for The Fallen One, and I was in seventh heaven.

I know a lot of authors who really hate doing this kind of thing. I can see their point, but it doesn’t bother me. In fact, I really enjoy the process. Having someone else’s opinion, and that someone actually wielding a big stick (“What do you mean you reject everything in our edit?” says the editor-in-chief. “I'm going to have to speak with the publisher about this!”) leads me to sharpen my wits and really look at what might be wrong with my deathless prose.

This time out, I was working with a new editor, and that led me to some anxious moments before I received his work and got a chance to look it over. Since I write with musical themes as backgrounds in my novel, it’s nice to have someone who knows about this. My current editor really doesn’t know much about music, but I think he “got” a lot of what I was trying to do. Some of his notes questioned musical things in the story, and he and I looked at it as a chance to educate him a bit. But it also allowed me a glimpse at what a lot of readers might struggle with, as well. That proved to be very useful because I used his puzzlement or confusion to clarify what I had written in order to solve this potential problem. Let’s face it: if someone knows little about the opera world – or is somewhat afraid of it – it’s my job to help them get past that and bring them into my story. I can’t do that if they don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.

I also felt he had a pretty good grasp of who my protagonist was, how she was put together and how she would respond to situations the plot throws at her. That led him to some inconsistencies in the story and with possible solutions to rectify the situation. For that I’ll be eternally grateful.

Another interesting facet this time out was that I hadn’t looked at my ms in over a year. This allowed me to view my prose with wide-open, observant and more critical eyes. And what a story that told – sometimes embarrassingly so. Still, there was one step forward from similar exercises in the past: no sentences in the ms were cringe-worthy – just the odd phrase here and there.

By the time I got to the end, everything seemed to be falling well into place. Now, Matt Baker, my editor, might not feel the same way when he reads over what I want to do, but even if we need to have a “discussion” about this, and I lose on certain points, I have a lot more confidence in this book than I did with some of my past novels.

Usually, I’m very much up in the air at this stage, wondering whether a book is “good enough”. I have just lost all perspective on it. For The Fallen One, I think I may have a winner.

Let’s hope the reviewers feel the same.

Regardless, I wanted last week to never end.

And by the way – thanks, Matt!


Hannah Dennison said...

I too love the editing process. I find that's when the "fun" begins. The hard part is over and now it's a case of making the book better. I can't wait to be in your position!

Rick Blechta said...

I'm sitting at the moment. How is that special?


hannah Dennison said...

Because you are special, Rick.

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