Thursday 15th June 2017
OK, I never thought I’d say this but… editing is fun.
I’ve done about 50 pages today. This puts me about 100 pages in out of 723. I say ‘about’ as I have to expand a scene and so I need to break from the line edits briefly to bring an additional layer to this scene.
Make no mistake, it’s bloody hard work. I want to do more but I find I have to keep taking breaks just to rest my brain. Each change needs to be considered and I have to fight my natural urge to want to keep it. That in itself is exhausting.
Every so often there’s a suggestion of something that needs to be expanded, but at this stage of the novel, it’s not doing it in a couple of pages, but a couple of sentences.
I can feel the confidence in the text starting to come through. At first I worried that without little modifiers characters would lose some of their ticks, but writing is an illusion. No-one speaks in real life as they do in books. The real trick to dialogue isn’t to make it realistic but to make it sound realistic. And so I’ve deleted these modifiers and extra phrases and found something less flabby, more chiselled.
I’m learning as well. Even writing this issue of The Climb, I’m noticing little things. Instead of writing “a little less flabby, a little more chiselled” I write “less flabby, more chiselled”. Before I would have felt that it lost some of its voice. Now, I feel the latter is stronger.
So I’m cutting phrases and words. I see my words emerging tighter, more impactful, and I really, really like it. I’m having a genuine ball with this.
And on top of this, I have the discussions over the beginning of the book. I’m sending emails back and forth about the book, discussing ideas, being professional and creative.
I feel like the writer I want to be. I’m discussing things beyond the text. I’m talking about the amount of information the reader has to digest in the first few chapters and trying to minimise it. I’m talking about scenes I want to contrast against in future books. I question whether adding additional characters at the beginning might result in plot problems later in the book.
I’ve gone beyond simply telling a story to discussing tactics and strategy, nuts and bolts. All that hard work, all those decisions that exist off the page, are all starting to come together.
There’s so much work to do, it’s insane. I should feel swamped. Instead, I’m surfing the wave without fear of falling off.
I think what I’ve loved about today is that I’ve been able to showcase my strengths. I’m so used to being the person who has to fight. I feel I’m pushing all the time. Whether it’s the day job and the way to get things done, or the medical profession and getting them to deal with my problems, I always feel resistance. I’m a square peg in a round hole. I’ve come to accept that about myself but it means I have to fight for everything. Maybe not as bad as some people have to fight, but I still need to fight.
And yet, here writing, it’s suddenly effortless. I’m flying. I know what I’m doing and I can just get on with it.
This isn’t some ego thing. I’ve been given plenty of comments and suggestions that have me going “Oh fuck, that’ll be difficult”. I’m not standing there saying I’m in charge and ignoring it. No, I look at the comment or change, understand it, agree with it 49 times out of 50, and do the fucking work.
Instead of feeling daunted by the amount of work, I feel energised by it. I want to stay up later and edit more. I want to call in sick so I can spend a day making progress.
There’s been mistakes along with the challenges. I read somewhere that the best way to do line edits was to have the commented version open in MS Word and the original document in Scrivener on another screen. It means that I’m having to transcribe every change. It’s slower but I’ve had a few people tell me that it’s a better way to work
However, I think I may have made some changes to the manuscript after I exported version 12.0. Usually the x.1 version is just a spell check but I think 12.2 had some passive phrases replaced.
Given that I’m working from 12.0 to create the current 13.0 version of the novel, there may be some changes missing so I plan to do a comparison between the 2 documents once I’m done. I’m just very thankful that I learnt to version control my documents and keep copies. It makes it easier to go back.
Yet even this doesn’t stress me out. In fact the only thing I could see causing me some anxiety is getting the work done quickly. I certainly don’t want to rush it, but I want to get this out the door fast. But again, this is all part of the fun.
It’s been such a great writing day that it’s overshadowed other news that even a week ago, I would have seen being the main theme of today’s edition of The Climb. I’ll be going to Sweden again this year for Swordfish. This is the Wimbledon of swordfighting and whilst I didn’t qualify for the initial round of entries, I managed to get in during the second round. It was a bit stressful but I’m going. I’m super excited about it even if it isn’t until the end of the year.
Sword & Buckler filled fast but I’d decided to focus purely on rapier & dagger. Untournament left me feeling exhausted in the afternoon and so that screwed me over in the rapier & dagger semi-finals. I’m doing both at Astolat and that may prove a bad decision. Still, at this stage, I think what I need is a lot of fights to get the experience of fighting people from other schools.
Obviously I’m really pleased I got in. Not sure how many from the school are going this year but there’s a whole edition of The Climb on that topic alone. But for today, the focus of today’s edition is on the editing.
I’ve grown so much as a writer in just the last week and the more I do the more I love it. Given how much my attitude has changed over the last week as I’ve found my confidence with these edits, I just hope I feel as positive when I reach the end.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels. Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.
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