Thursday, March 03, 2016

A Tinkerer's Process

One week. Two books.

It happens every year: I get deep into next year's book – into that space where the little voices inside my head won't leave me alone, and I'm thinking of the characters and the plot when I walk, eat, even wake from sleep thinking about the book I'm writing.

Then the package arrives containing the proof pages of this year's book. I push the voices aside, take up my pencil, and make any final, final edits. It's stressful and time consuming, and when I'm done and have emailed any necessary changes to my editor always leaves me having to reread the entire work-in-progress again, starting from page one.

Rereading is always a good thing. Partially because I'm a tinkerer. I'm the kind of writer who is "never finished." I can tweak and cut and tweak and cut until the final manuscript looks like this:


Yes, a single comma.

One thing I've found over the years is that I edit best on paper, not on the computer screen – an odd admission for a teacher who only collects papers electronically and who corrects them on an iPad. But, for me, there's something to be said for editing in longhand.

Here's the work-in-progress:

It's ugly. Not a line escaped revision. And this is third draft.

I've written on Type M that I listen to my work using text to speech as part of my editing process. That's extremely helpful. But, for me, during the early stages especially, nothing beats sitting down with pencil and pages in the quiet of an early-morning house and slashing away.

I'd love to start a thread and hear about others' editing process.

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