The Writing Life: Missed Updates

No blogs since August? I knew it had been a while, but it is a surprise to see so much time has elapsed, when almost every weekend I have considered writing an update. You know, I finished the verbal read-through, I finished the resolution of my last notes (hahahaha!) on continuity, I finished a proof read and discovered, not continuity errors exactly, more a question that had never occurred to me before, and once the question is asked, well, it has to be answered. Then I finished answering that question, and a couple of side fixes that popped up along the way. Heck, I also wrote and edited up seven appendices which may or may not appear at the end of the book, or perhaps here as digital canon. I’m leaning toward book, with more examples appearing here, but we’ll see.

So now I’m finished with editing. Really. This time two years ago I thought I was in with an outside chance of publishing by the end of the year. Then I decided to have “a quick look” at the book and “tidy up” anything that struck me as being a little clumsy or rushed, as I had, with my editor’s help, blasted through the writing process that year. Obviously my quick look turned into a lengthly overhaul, mostly of the small stuff, nuts and bolts tightening, linguistic tweaks to smooth out the prose. (And continuity, continuity, continuity, of character, event, theme.) I must stress this has nothing to do with the great work my editor did – he was following my direction, and did an excellent job for me – I just changed the plan after we were done. Writers: fickle swine. Anyway, my overhaul did eventually lead to every page, every paragraph, almost every sentence being revisited. Funny how a book can look so much the same after having had so much done to it, but I know the difference, and I know where I made a thousand small improvements.

Was it worth it? I have no idea, and just laughed at that. It is what it is, I could do no other. I’m satisfied with it now, plus I have edited myself into surrender/exhaustion. A good thing, I think, but nothing I ever want to do again. My next book will be an experiment in maintaining no GAF and barrelling through to the end and hurling the story at the world before I start second guessing anything. Rough and ready will be the name of the game. I’m hoping to have learned enough over the past two books to keep the third one in pretty good technical shape. I have it started already, and possess a burgeoning set of notes and yet more ideas floating around in my head to be fleshed out as I write – which I am hugely looking forward to. We shall see how it goes – but that’s the point of experiments, isn’t it?

So here we are: proofing time has arrived. The book is out to proof reader #1, then on to #2 and #3 in due course. Then formatting which leads to guess what? Me reading the entire book again, to proof the formatting, and make sure it does not introduce any errors. Last time out I caught a handful of things even then. How many times have I read this book from start to finish? Formally? Many tens of times. Trawling back and forth checking for continuity or cutting down on excessive repetitions? Hundreds of times easily, probably thousands given some word searches.

Was that too much? I didn’t think it too many. But it will be up to you, the readers to decide. I look forward to that day – I can’t put a date to it, but wheels are now in motion that will end the creation of the book, and usher in the business of production. I will keep you updated. 😉

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