Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Thrill of Victory... The Agony of Delete

A short time ago, I discovered that I could look up the stats for this blog. Among the information listed, I discovered that someone found my site by asking, "Is Pill Hill Press a vanity press?" I can attest that, having recently received their edits for my novel, that they are nothing of the sort. What little vanity I have took a serious blow.

Comments in red, blue, and purple ink fill the margins throughout the book. I overuse certain words, and they're longer than four letters. Entire paragraphs have been flagged as 'wordy' or 'unclear', so it's probably time to STFU about James Joyce. I've also been asked to delete a few blocks of writing as unnecessary to the story. Ouch!

These are common errors, though. Em dashes and new word choices just need to be 'fixed'. It gets worse. My editor found contradictions of logic and inconsistencies in my vampire physics. I've had a couple of real "Oh, s--t!" moments. This stuff will require serious thought and rewriting.

I feel like an utter idiot. How could I have managed to leave so much stuff screwed up after four drafts? I have to remind myself that my editor, who is also my publisher, saw these same pages, errors included, when she decided to offer me a contract. Despite the amount of ink decorating the margins, she must have thought that these problems were surmountable.

I must also remind myself that I can get my characters and plot to do the things needed because, in the words of Donald Maass, they are "a work of fiction". This is made up stuff, and I am a writer. I can do this.

So, I picked up my yelping, whimpering manuscript, and began revisions. I'm proceeding one step at a time, untangling its words, making it stand up straight, and putting its shoes on the correct feet. Solutions have already begun coming to me. I will get this done... and the book will be better for it.



Gwen Mayo said...

Your book is going to be even more awesome.

Sarah Glenn said...

Please remember that when I start asking you questions like: "How would YOU handle Imogene?"

Marian Allen said...

Revisions are fun! They're fun! They're fun! Where else but in revisions can you change the world? It's awesome! And did I mention it's fun?

Marian Allen

Peg Brantley said...

Your sense of humor will land you on top of this project sooner rather than later.

Thanks for the humility.

E. B. Davis said...


I too just went through major revisions on my ms. When I got the critiques back, my first thought was to find a job making up advertising jingles. But--after really looking at the comments, some are very small, and the others will improve my ms.

I've read many books published by small press lately and you should be glad they are taking the time with you. Just make sure that the edits have been made on the final version, such as remembering to delete the original word if a new one was suggested. Yes, I've seen incomprehensible sentences--here are two verbs, chose whichever you like best.

Helen Ginger said...

If you can pick yourself up off the floor after seeing the marked up manuscript, you can make the changes. You've already moved from shock to action.

Sandra Parshall said...

And it will always be this way, Sarah, with every book. (Hmm. That doesn't help much, does it?) I enjoy rewriting, once I've got a handle on what's necessary, and it's a good feeling to know that I'm improving the book. I think you'll feel the same way once the shock wears off. :-)

Ellis Vidler said...

It does batter the ego, doesn't it? After all the revising and reworking we do, it's amazing what we miss. But I'm sure it will be a good book. There's nothing like a fresh eye to keep us humble.