The manuscript for Chet III was returned from my editor last night. Now starts the most dreaded and difficult part of writing my novel. At least as long as I exclude persistent writer’s block.
I open the document, and not wanting to risk the loss of both eyes, I crack one eyelid just enough to let in a glimmer of light. In the self imposed twilight, I gingerly scan the pages. From page one, all the way to page three hundred and fifty four, it looks like someone spilled an ocean of blue ink. It has washed across the regimented lines of black and white text, at times obliterating entire paragraphs, in other places snuffing out dozens of lines of dialogue.
As bad as it seems, I stoically remind myself that it could be worse. In the days before electronic processing of manuscripts, my editor would have used a red pencil or pen to do the markups. With a shudder, I envision the same corrections emblazoned in blood red, and I send forth a silent prayer of gratitude that at least I normally like the color of blue.
All hyperbole aside, it is incredibly difficult to pour your time and effort, not to mention some portion of your very essence, into a story and to have it so thoroughly sliced and diced. Intellectually, I know it’s being done in an effort to make the presentation better, especially the technical aspects, but sometimes it’s hard to get my heart to recognize and appreciate the intent.
As I take a deep breath and prepare to spend the next week or so burrowed into my book, making needed corrections and agonizing over what goes and what stays, there is one bright spot I’m going to try desperately to hang onto. At the top of this particular manuscript is a personal note from my editor.
She wrote. ‘I love starting one of your manuscripts. It’s like settling in for a chat with an old friend.’
In all candor, I appreciate my editor more than I can possibly express. I know she is trying to make the finished book the best it can possibly be. That being ever so cautiously admitted, if something she loves comes back looking like this, I’d hate to be the one that sends her something she dislikes.
I’ll see you on the other side …