I think I’ve finally crossed the threshold in the novel-in-progress where I am no longer writing new material from scratch and I am now editing what has been written and what should still make into the final book.
Huzzah! Open the wine!
Wait, it’s too early for wine? Okay, later then.
I was starting to think I wouldn’t get there at all, that I would keep on writing and just re-write the whole thing, start to finish, under the impression that it would be easier than trying to match it up with what I already had. Some scenes were rewritten from another POV entirely, others were whole-cloth retrofits, either removing subplots I later dropped or weaving in new ones. And doing it at a pretty good clip, I might add, making it an even more seductive proposition to rewrite every page.
Is that really doable? Sure. Would it be a good use of my time? I don’t think so. Most of it stemmed from that nebulous insecurity of not ever having done a novel edit. Would I be able to do it? Would the edits help, or kill it? Am I just making a bigger mess? Will I end up with a Frankenstein of a second draft, a monster of mish-mashed parts that would rampage across the town even while it begged for love?
What got me over all that was two things: 1) I finally got to the parts I could use, and 2) the realization that this second draft isn’t going to be the final draft anyways, so chill.
I think that was the big elephant in the room I was avoiding.
Flashback time: as a kid in school, I did pretty well. It came easy, and I was praised for it. So as I got older and some things challenged me more than they had before, I started to assume that if I wasn’t naturally good at something right from the start, I simply never could be. Toxic thinking! I avoided a lot of activities because of it (and probably still do). With writing, I can sometimes get something very nice out of me on the first go. If it’s short, and if I don’t finish it. Instead I will let it sit, luxuriating in a potential that I will never realize.
Since I started taking this writing thing seriously, though, I now understand the danger in that kind of self-sabotague. It will never be perfect right out of the gate, and that’s okay. (Even better, normal!) It is routine for me now to work through my short stories in multiple drafts, so I don’t bug-out anymore. And as much as I was hoping (read: dreaming) that I would be able to do this structural edit of the novel and the polish at the same time, I have made peace with the fact that it simply isn’t going to happen.
Not that I am not polishing as I go now. As I work through the already written chapters, I am revising the old material, adding bits, taking bits out, polishing the bits that are there. But the focus is mostly structural, getting the complete story down on the page. After the structural work, it’s off to the Beta Readers. They’ll catch what I missed, what I over-did, what I didn’t explain — and then it’s on to what I hope will be the final edit. After that, querying. Maybe. If I don’t hate it by then.
Not to say that all the rest will be merely edits, either. There will still be stuff to write from scratch, but the pendulum has finally swung the other way. I feel like the story is firmly set in my head and pretty confident that this structural edit will be out the door before Viable Paradise.
Let’s hope moving apartments next week doesn’t completely derail me. *grin*