Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Fiction Day - It's Never "Ready"

Since last week's "My Fiction Day," I've been editing. No, not scanning over pages. Not even just reading the pages. I've incorporated edits my publisher suggested (that I agreed with), and then . . . get this . . . printed off the entire manuscript - 378 pages - and read it aloud to my husband . . . for several days. Yeah, I know. That's a heck of a lot of patience from a spouse who doesn't write. And get this . . . he's heard the story twice before, as it was written and then critiqued. He knows my story almost as well as I do. He can talk about the characters like they just left the room.

And I wound up hoarse with chapped lips.

So here I sit with edits typed. I don't want to let loose of it. What if I missed the repetition of words like arm, car, look, pain, tremble, tear, or whatever else turned into an unconscious favorite word I never knew I repeated? What if the car is a Taurus instead of a Jeep? What if the timeline is off one day? I think all my pronouns aren't confused.

Maybe I'm asking too much. Maybe I'm nervous. The publisher told me to beat this thing up good. This was the last chance for content changes. Sure, somebody will review it twice more for typos and commas and double-typed THE's, but the story will have to stand on its newborn legs once I turn this in.

I spoke with her last week, excited about the edits, with promises I'd have it turned back around in two weeks. The last thing I want to do is postpone the tentative release in February. She warned me to take my time. Ever the one to please the teacher, I slowed down and dug in. But now that's spent that week "digging," I wonder if I've dug hard enough.

But I have genuine concerns that what I like in a story isn't what anyone else on the planet will like. What if I'm quirky and unique, and nobody else appreciates it? What if it's too simple? What if the colloquialisms don't work? What if my protagonist isn't likeable? What if it just sucks?

What will my mother think? It has cursing in it. What will my children think? It has violence and sex. Argh!

But I printed it off anyway . . . again. I want to read it once more without Track Changes and red and blue edits. I want to grab a bourbon, turn on the fan and sit on the porch, digesting the story like a reader, not a writer. I've never had the luxury of reading it for entertainment. I want to ride along with the characters, not dissect their movements, dialogue and thoughts.

So, dog hair keeps floating along the hallway, not vacuumed. Baby powder and hair coat my bathroom floor. The second picking of butterbeans in my garden is only half-worked, and weeds have started to grow. I shut doors to avoid seeing dust on dressers and end tables. Dinner is whatever anyone finds in the pantry to fix himself. Because I have to take a couple days to read this mystery from this debut author I heard of. I haven't seen the reviews, and I need to see if it's worth reading her work all the way through.


widdershins said...

Oh those horrible, 'what if's' ...

I've read my story so many times that I swear I could recite it backwards ... and I'm still finding typo's.

I'll finish the last readthrough tomorrow, then it's gone, ready or not. Me that is, not the MS. I don't think we're ever ready for that first one to go off without us.

Sioux Roslawski said...

I wonder how many authors read their novel for the sheer pleasure of it, after working and reworking it so many times? I would imagine that many writers simply assume the novel is entertaining--because they wrote it--and skip that step.

Hope, I bet that your crap-meter is NOT in need of being recalibrated. I would put money on this: it's an engaging story, full of a rich voice, and a compelling storyline. (We can't wait.)

Kathleen Basi said...

I write music and prose, and each of them is harder in its own way. Texts for church music are so structured a poetry that I always know when a song is actually finished; something clicks in my brain and says "That's it--you got it, finally." (After about six pages of cramped writing, trying out different combinations of words within the same meter pattern.)

But prose? That's another thing entirely. It's so open-ended, by comparison. It's never done. Never. Finally you just have to abandon it...that's my feeling.

Hope Clark said...

Thanks, but the closer the date gets for the book's release, the more I wonder . . . Thanks, y'all.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of that 'murder your darlings' expression. Except what you are talking about is letting go in a healthy, non violent way.

This is like sending the baby off to college and having faith that your parenting will carry them through and they won't be a total social reject. But you are already a success as a writer, Hope! People already want to read your stuff! I know what I'm talking about. I'm one of them. :)

Amanda Kendle said...

I'm loving all these insights into the reality of what happens once you actually get a book deal, Hope - so fascinating! I'm sure it's all fine - but I can imagine it can be hard o convince yourself of that. I don't want your February release postponed either - I remember reading the first part during an Amazon contest years ago (this is the same novel, right?) and have been wanting to read the rest ever since.