Monday, December 12, 2011

Long (Descent into Hell) Day

Last night around 11:30pm, I decided, foolishly (I know, adverb bad), to re-read some of my early chapters.  And the editing began, again.  Somewhere around 2am, I finally (I know, another bad, bad adverb) closed my laptop and decided I needed to get some sleep.

Today, on top of five hours sleep, I had meetings non-stop at work, one-after-another, until it seemed that every usable idea had been wrenched from my head by force with a giant turkey baster.  And yes, after all that, I try to come home and write.  That is why there are too many nights when I just drivel garbage onto the page, instead of something meaningful or even worth writing.

The reason I was up reading/editing is that this book, this ankle-biting child of my invention, is my first novel, and at it's current length, after some drastic editing already, it is still 135K words.  Experts say that agents/publishers don't want to see a manuscript over 110K from a newbie writer.  Makes sense.  Why invest 600 pages of reading time on someone you've never heard of?  In case you didn't know, 150K words equals 600 pages, and I was almost there because I went to the Bill Faulkner school of writing.  Why say something in two words when you can use twenty-two? 

So now, I'm in panic mode.  How do I cut 25K+ words from my manuscript?  I mean, cutting that much could convert Maggie from a tormented woman into a happy simpleton. Okay, that was an exaggeration, she could never be happy. Or a simpleton. But cutting that many words could weaken the effect of my voice, my writing voice.  I mean, seriously, old Bill Faulkner (well, actually he's dead now) is whispering in my ear, telling me that my novel is not just about telling a story, it's about telling a story with my voice.

And I tell Bill (this is another form of that socially acceptable schizophrenia that writer's have) that I have to adhere to the rules before I can tell my story, at least the first time.  If I was Mr. Faulkner, or Stephen King for that matter, I could get away with so much more, but for now, I have to follow the rules and prove that I'm a good writer, that this novel is not just the progeny of good luck.

On top of the Easter egg hunt for words/sentences that can be culled from my hard-birthed offspring, I set a goal--maybe unrealistic, I know--of being done with the final edit by January 1st.  Of 2012.

So I'm taking the middle ground.  I'm cutting words like crazy and still trying to retain my voice.  I'm cutting the "family history" chapters--Morgan, Greer, Nessa, and Bree, your stories will be left for another day--which will reduce the story by 15K words, and I'm editing Maggie, not so that she's a happy simpleton, but so that she can share her problems with someone besides me.

And I will keep editing (and selling) until you get to read this novel.

With that said, I'll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite authors, Stephen King: "The road to hell is paved with adverbs."

(BTW, I'm having a glass of my favorite white wine, Eroica by Chateau Ste. Michelle, and contemplating adverbs and the road to hell.)

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