Editing, the Second Draft and Serious Business

So the second draft of Ink for Thieves is finally finished. I’ll probably need to give it one more read through before I pass it on to my brave and wily beta reading team, but for now the big chunk of work is done. At least, on that book it is. The next couple of months will see more pulling out of hair and knuckle chewing as I read my way through the rough draft of Dead Zoo Shuffle and realise exactly how much delicate surgery that book needs before it’s readable- along with plenty of merry hacking, amputating and other bloody works.

 

Last night I remembered something Stephen King mentions in his book, On Writing. He said, (I may be paraphrasing slightly here) that you “shouldn’t come lightly to the page”. The first time I read that I don’t think I really understood what he was talking about. I thought perhaps he was suggesting that writing, real writing, was always hard work and could never be fun, which clearly wasn’t true at all. Now, having slogged my way through my first novel-length edit and emerged with what is, hopefully, a much shinier and sexier book, I think I’m starting to understand.

 

I think he’s talking about an acceptance of the sheer work involved. Yes, it’s fun and there are moments when the story suddenly comes together and the characters wander off to do what they want, and then the writing is exhilarating, but what you are doing is serious business. It is art. And you may well have to write this damn book over and over again until it is any good, and that thought is daunting, but no one ever said this was going to be a walk in the park, where gnomes massage your toesies and butterflies waft their secret songs into your ear holes. Much of the time in fact it’s rather more like heaving a giant dung ball on your back (that may or may not have a diamond secreted in it somewhere) and hauling it to the top of an impossibly tall mountain while goats with sarcastic eyebrows frown at you in a judgemental manner. But that’s alright because this is hardcore, this is SRS BSNS.

 

At least, I think that’s what he was talking about.

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