Editing, editing, editing…

I thought writing my novel was hard enough. It took me six years to complete the first draft, working mostly late in the evening when the rest of the household was in bed, or on weekends, or on camping trips or in airplanes, scribbling in notebooks or on small scraps of paper. In addition to developing my characters and the arc of the plot, I had to research and read a ton of stuff to immerse myself in the period. Each chapter I shared with my writing group, and incorporated the feedback that made sense to me, ignoring anything that didn’t. Then when it was done, came the revisions. And more revisions: third draft, fourth.

But now, I am getting published! Yeah! So I’m done, right? Wrong. The copy editor sent back the manuscript with hundreds of suggestions for revisions and cuts. It took me a month to go through these one by one and either accept or reject, justify my rejections, and then re-write the sections affected by the cuts. A few weeks after that, it was the proof-reading stage. That was much quicker, but still I had to go through the whole thing again, checking for any additional errors. And then, last week, I received the so-called “First Pages”. This was very exciting: my novel in a beautiful real-book layout, with justified text and chapter headings. As expected, I found errors with the transition to this layout, and it was now a pdf file so I couldn’t make corrections on the document itself; instead, I had to follow a very particular format for listing all the changes in a separate a Word document. It was a slow, tedious process: Page 139, Graph 6, Line 3: change for to from; to read: she took the letter from him. But I made my way through it. I’m actually a stickler for detail so I kind of enjoy this stuff.

The best part? After all this going through the manuscript again and again, I’m not sick of it. I still think this is a pretty good novel. And that’s cool.