Finding the Self-Discipline for Editing
Yes, I wrote a novel in November during NaNoWriMo. I called it “Drawing Out Anna” and it is a Regency Romance novel with a strong Christian theme. I exceeded the 50,000 word requirement for NaNoWriMo within the first 20 days. Though I am starting to feel more like I’m bragging, I feel I should mention that I wrote more than 75,000 words and finished the novel in the 30 days of November, just like I planned. So far so good.
But, it was always understood that I would have to do my editing in December. This is where I am meeting with a hang-up. NaNoWriMo is over. There is no computerized counter telling me how many pages I have (or have not) edited today and how many I need to edit by the end of the month. There is no applause, no feedback, no friendly competition. There is just me and a huge stack of paper. There wasn’t even the huge stack of paper until today. Yes, it took me until the 18th of December to get off my duff and print out my novel. I was pretending that I could edit it from the computer files, and I probably could have – if I had opened the files and gotten started!
Today, for no reason in particular, I finally opened the computer files and decided to print a copy of my book. First I printed the stupid alignment page that my printer was whining about since my husband changed the color ink cartridge last weekend and hadn’t done the alignment. Then, I let it align itself. Next I printed approximately 40 pages and the printer decided it was out of black ink. Not realizing that this printer doesn’t lie to me like the old one did, I told it to bear with me for another few pages. It quickly became clear that the printer wasn’t going to play that game and not even one page came out in good shape. I got to re-print those few pages, after I changed the black ink cartridge, of course. But, I showed it! I didn’t print the stupid alignment page again.
I printed through page 212 and then my brain forgot what it was typing and entered 100-and-something instead of 200-and-something. The printer obediently spit out approximately 15 pages from the middle of the book – pages that I had already printed. Tempting as it was, I did not have a temper tantrum. I just got more paper out and went back to printing. Finally, even with my brain getting muddled and the paper jamming a time or two and the printer sneaking in an alignment page printing when I thought I was telling it to print chapter 10, I got my book printed.
In case you don’t know, 243 pages of a book that YOU need to edit is a daunting heap of paper. I think I would rather write another book than dive into editing this one. But I could not, and would not, inflict an unedited book onto the public – and I really do want to get this book published – so, edit it I will. It won’t sound like much to you, but I have edited the first 8 pages now. Whew. It isn’t quite as scary now that I have made a start.
My biggest challenge is making long sentences shorter and more concise – mostly by chopping them into two sentences. Then there are continuity issues – is it early spring or late spring? Does the hero continue to have light brown hair all the way through the book? Besides that, I have to make note of any place where I have made an assumption regarding the era – those places will require a bit of research to make sure that Jane Austen really had written Sense and Sensibility by then, and that the regiment I say my soldier was in actually survived the war… things like that. Research is rather fun, though, so I don’t mind that. What I really mind is trying to figure out how to take a sentence that came straight from my feminine brain and helping it make sense to masculine brains and other female brains that work more efficiently than does my own.
It feels good to get past my tendency to procrastinate and get some work done on my book. I hope that you are able to get busy doing your work, too. There is a certain energy that comes with making progress, and I am enjoying it.
I have a question for you – what is your favorite way to do research? Do you find people who lived through something and speak to them in person? Do you do a Google search? Do you head to the library and spend hours in the reference section? What have you researched recently – and for what purpose? Thanks for reading along and for answering my questions.