Thursday, October 27, 2011

Better Read

I have a folder in my email titled "Better Read." In there I store email links to The Writer's Guide to ePublishing. It has 123 unread emails. I fully intend to savor each one but I don't dare start while I'm still editing.

It's frustrating.

Instead of the proverbial carrot dangled to entice me to try harder, this sub-folder reminds me every day that I can't yet read these lest I'm distracted by the next phase--publishing. My current phase is editing. Did you hear that? Editing. Sorry, the sound of my keyboard clicking as I write this post is too noisy. Did someone say something about editing? Yes, I will edit before I publish here.

So what is it that I want to say about editing a novel? I'm in probably my 4th or 5th major revision. I'd say 2/3 of the novel is solid. I'm revising an important arc to improve its story as well as compliment the novel. And it's freaking driving me nuts!

I started with the easy things. I went through and made a few of the grammatical notes given to me by readers, tweaking a few things I saw on my own along the way. Then I decided to print just the chapters dealing with this particular arc (a task possible with Scrivener and another thing I LOVE about it). I've been through it once and decided to rearrange the time line. My notes were solid, with excellent intentions.

The problem was I had a tight tone, a strong rhythm. I couldn't just rearrange chapters as I once did because the skeletal story was tightly knitted together with important muscle. Now, it takes a surgeon skill to transplant various scenes, linking up tiny capillaries of subtlety. I have plotted and planned, even adding a couple of extra limbs for easier handling. Unfortunately, when I looked at the actual chapters I couldn't see a place to attach without creating a "Frankenstein-ian" Durga.

I've struggled for over a month with this surgery. Granted my life got a little overwhelming nearly four weeks ago, but I still can't understand the difficulty of this task. I've revised my plan, eliminating the extra limbs for a simple, direct frame. I've finally connected the first major revision to the core of the story. I'll resume the next phase of this triple-bypass tomorrow. If I don't finish by NaNo then I'll have to pick it up again in a month.

Why does it take me so long? How do you keep from feeling discouraged by the never-ending edits?