If you are following my blog you will know that right now I am in the middle of working with a publisher to produce my novel, Light Rising, which will be available soon. (I can’t wait to share more!) And so, recently I have been stuck in a world called editing. Also endless birthday celebrations for two of our children, mother-in-law visits from New Zealand, but mainly… editing. I know, exciting, right? Well, I’m pretty sure that some people imagine an author’s life as being exciting. I know I did...
Apparently, if you ask them, to the world an author’s life can, for some reason, easily be pictured as a serene, peaceful existence expertly blended with the spontaneously adventurous… A life where writers live blissful lives to their own happy schedules, sitting by the window at their desks or on their yachts in exotic locations whilst sipping their tea and dreaming of the incredibly gripping story that will just spill easily out onto the paper or computer screen and inevitably fall into the hands of thousands of satisfied readers. And then relax into the afternoon as they sit back and smile at their accomplishment. Because talent, right?
Four years ago, when I first started to take my writing dream seriously I very quickly realized that the world I was living in my head didn’t quite match the reality of how life needed to be played out. Put simply, seriously dreaming needed to become seriously working. Now, being creatively minded, this doesn’t always come naturally, as those of us who are, tend to get restless when sitting in one place for too long, or on one page. But, sometimes, you love what you do to the point that the hard work isn’t so much of a problem, but more a challenge that you are daring enough to overcome (snort). Then there’s the moments that you are desperately trying to focus on that face saying some type of words to you at that gathering of other humans that you were invited to, when you just wanna disappear from life and cozy up in a warm corner because all you can think about is that new idea you’ve just come up with (insert: line/scene/character/plot) to write in your latest book, which will guarantee your audience falls in love with that particular character. Until you hate it and delete the whole page.
There are also, some days when the sunshine beckons and the coffee date is tempting, the writing doesn’t flow and the frustration builds. That’s when you remind yourself that it’s okay to have a few breaks every now and then. It’s good for the soul. Getting back into it, however, occasionally requires large doses of self-administered motivation. I’ve referred to it before as bum glue. I like that phrase… I’ll probably use it again.
For me, this month has been all about bum glue. So much so that I’ve nearly run out of stock, and am wondering where the replenishment will come from? Because, work this month has been all about the final polish of the words on the page. The most unexciting part of a writer’s agenda, it would seem. Because, just when you think you’ve done your part, you’ve spent weeks, months and possibly years perfecting your story, THEN COMES THIS…
As boring as it looks, I found that once I took my proverbial motivational medicine, editing is a place where you really do learn a lot about how you write and it is actually useful for discovering how you can improve. Imagine that? Here’s just a few points about what I’ve learnt on the editing journey so far.
- Just when you think you’ve found every grammatical error known to mankind, you find three more. Or thirty more. Which is incredible to you, because you were sure that you checked your manuscript thoroughly before handing it to your publisher.
- Everything takes twice as long as you think it will when trying to review a manuscript, because you have to double-check each line and also make sure you haven’t fallen asleep whilst doing it. This is where caffeine comes beautifully in handy. Also chocolate. Dark chocolate. Especially if, like me, you have babies that still wake at numerous intervals throughout the night. Glory.
- Be nice to your editor. They have to put up with you, and all your, um, ‘interesting’ questions. (Well, perhaps that one is just for me.) They also have to be patient with you as you make numerous changes that you didn’t think you needed to make the first time around.
- Be prepared: All of a sudden you’re finding errors in everything. Reading took on a new meaning once I got my editing goggles on. I couldn’t take them off and found errors in all sorts of unexpected places. Once, during some quiet time to myself I found the word ‘kidnaped’ in my Bible, and it drove me so incredibly nuts that I couldn’t focus. I mean, come on! Kidnaped? (Okay, so maybe I was in a little ‘obsessive compulsive’ place right at that particular moment in time. It happens!)
- Make sure you’re happy with the final result. This should come as no surprise. After all, your book will be making its way to a store and into somebody’s hands very soon. You want to make sure it reflects exactly what you wanted to convey. When that moment comes and you’re sure your work is complete, you will know it. Of course there are a thousand million ways you could make it better! An artist’s work is ‘never truly finished’, because we roll it around in our minds until the end of time! But you will find your peace with your manuscript, eventually. And it’s a great feeling, by the way.
P.S. If my editor is reading this… THANK YOU!