Writerly Rant #35
by M.J. Moores, OCT. Author. Editor. Freelance Writer.
Now I’m not aiming to be blasphemous here to either Christian or Homerian followers, what I want to get across is the weight of the monumental tasks that we each face in our personal struggles.
Similar to what Jesus experiences, we writers need to disavow our work at least three times before we can reach a place of appreciation for the opus we’ve created. During each phase of denial to the work, we face horrendous challenges and must cut the heads from the hydra in order for our work to transcend.
As an editor it’s easy for me to post, “You must do this, in that draft, to attempt to reach this effect.” As an author the practice is not nearly as fun as the preaching 😉
I’m working on editing my first book with my publisher for a fall launch date (time crunch!). This is not my first edit by any means. I have gone over this book and re-created it three times now.
The first version was the bright-eyed college version full of flaws and holes and promise.
The second version was the studious university one (yes, I first went to a community college and then attended university) that looked at symbolism, the structure of the journey, and the ten-time rewrite of my 1st chapter (I’ve rewritten it again by the way).
The third version was my emotional and logistical approach via working with editor “friends” and my writing critique groups.
Notice how I do not refer to each manifestation of my work as a “draft” but a “version” of the story. Each version went through multiple drafts as I learned my craft and utilized the help of content, line and copy editors. The point is, I thought I finally got it perfect. I was so excited and proud of the third version that I was ready to self-publish if an agent or small press decided not to take me on (I gave myself a year to query).
Now I’m into version four. I have read, reread, restructured, recreated and re-fabricated plot elements, characters, and setting to the point where I’m actually sick of my own work. I don’t want to read another word or change another sentence… I know what’s happening, who does what, where the characters are and are going to – I’ve had enough. I want to let it rest in peace, but I know that by following my publishing editor’s directions the book will become the best version of itself.
Yes, I’ve cut 17,000 words so far but I’ve also re-written that many again – this time in the “right” places.
I’m not done this quest yet, but by the end of the adventure my work will transcend. I truly believe in this miracle and I have the twenty-odd drafts to prove it. The experts say that the first novel you write is not likely to be your first publication. I still believe this. While the essential story and characters remain the same, I am literally on book three of this idea (#4 is just a better version of #3).
My advice remains as it always does – Happy Editing! For while the love-affair with your work might get lost along the way, the relationship you’ll have with your work by the end will make it and you all the stronger and happier. You will feel all the more proud after having achieved a Herculian feat – give yourself that opportunity.