Saturday 17th June 2017
Today has been a tough day. Some days writing flows like silk, and some days you’re in a trench engaged in a land battle. Today has been the latter.
After not getting any work done yesterday, today I’ve been trying to make up for lost time. I wanted to edit a lot of pages. I’ve not, though not through lack of effort.
My latest round of editorial notes come in several forms.
There’s some general notes. These cover wide ranging issues that exist over a number of chapters. These can be things to do with characters or world-building. I’ve got a chapter consolidation in there, as well as a number of scenes that need a rewrite.
I tackled these things first, and whilst I have a few things to do, I’ve made good progress on them.
Next is the annotated word document. This is the version of the manuscript I sent in at the end of last year. Using the comments feature in MS Word, I can see corrections and notes.
The vast majority of corrections consist of removing text. I over-write in places and so these are designed to trim the text back to make for a tighter narrative. I find I have two conflicting emotions about them. On one hand, I’m precious about my text and find I have to fight the urge to keep everything. But at the same time, on days when it’s tough, I find I would really like to click “accept all” and just be done with it.
I suppose the quickest way to deal with these changes would be inside the MS Word document. However, I write inside Scrivener, only exporting at the very end before a quick spell check.
I can’t remember where I saw it, but I read a suggestion that said you should have the word document open with all the notes and then edit in Scrivener on another screen. That’s what I’m doing.
It’s elongating the process, and I believe will be a stage in the novel-creation process where I swap from Scrivener to Word. However, I’m still developing my editing so at this stage everything is a bit of an experiment.
Transcribing the changes might mean for slower progress but it does mean the changes are much more considered. As much as I want to get this done, I’m not going to sacrifice quality for speed.
I’m treating the changes very much in isolation. That means, I’m not really considering deletions much beyond the paragraph in which they reside. This is so I can have a bit of distance from the text and not become precious about my words. It seems to be working.
But there is a final form of editorial notes. These are actual notes alongside the changes to the text. These usually refer to changes to the chapter that are wider than just the current paragraph.
It’s these that I’m finding the most difficult. At first, they seem almost impossible. The novel seems like a carefully stacked house of cards and even the thought of replacing a card fills me with terror. And because my head is currently at a micro level, these small rewrites feel ginormous. I fear I’ll break the chapter and the entire novel will collapse.
In truth, they are usually resolved with a couple of well-placed sentences. I’m not sure if they work or not, given how I’m working on a micro level, but my intention is to read the entire document before sending the revised document back to my agent. I also have my wonderful beta reader on standby.
These micro-rewrites are the most difficult. I can happily cut text and then run into a wall when presented with one of these. They derail me, and I need to walk away from the manuscript to think about them in a wider context.
It’s draining and there’s always the danger that taking a break just leads to procrastination. However, I’ve been lucky on that front today.
What I’ve not been lucky with is the number of micro-rewrites I’ve been presented with. Today it has felt like one after the other.
And so process has been very slow, despite not venturing outside all day except for a quick shopping run at 8am and a break for an ice cream sometime this afternoon. I’d wanted to get 100 pages done today, and whilst I feel I’ve put in the effort needed for that, I’m just 20 pages on.
I’m left feeling that this is going to take ages. I don’t think that even if I had 2 weeks off the day job and worked all day, every day that I’d get it done.
The problem is very much the micro-rewrites. It’s the time spent thinking that causing me delays. Perhaps that’s how long it has to take. Perhaps I’m still feeling a little ill and that’s slowing me down.
I’m not sure, but the one thing I do know is that today, editing has been far from the fun it was the other day. I’ll get there, I know, but I suspect there are a lot of up and down days to come.
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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