Editing Blues..

Editing Blues 2

I thought I’d finished. “Slipping Through the Net” was ready for the world. Then I got the feedback from two editors I greatly respect, Jan Edwards and Nic Hale, and they both said the same thing. The book starts in the wrong place and Jan hated the use of the present tense.

Then my beta-reader reported back.

I was brave. I didn’t cry or scream. I acted professionally and re-read my manuscript. And bit by bit I realized they were all right. I didn’t agree with everything they said, but the first couple of chapters had to go.

Now I’ve done this before. With “Clear Gold” I ditched the first 30,000 words. With “House of Shadows” I changed the structure completely, so none of this was new, but somehow this time it felt different.

I don’t know why but I sank lower and lower under the carpet. I was a failure as a writer, what on earth was I doing even imagining I could write, let alone critique my own work. As the days went on I felt worse and worse. I avoided opening the file, I found other  “more urgent” tasks to do.

A pot of tea with Jan and things began to fall into place and I began the re-write.

I cut and pasted, deleted and changed tense and POV. My confidence increased. I was on a roll.

Whether this version is better, or not, it has proved to me yet again that writing is incredibly hard work. It sears the soul, wakes you at 3am and won’t let you go, but in the end after you’ve sweated it out and worried yourself silly, in those moments when the words flow and the ideas leap out of the page, then it really is worth it.

Why are endings so hard?

For three or maybe even four weeks I have been putting off the final edit of my second book in the “Clear Gold” trilogy. Rather than complete the task, I polished up some of my short stories and sent them off, worked in the garden, baked a cake, anything rather than face the fact that I would sooner or later have to finish the book.

The problem was that the ending wasn’t working. I had a suspicion that was so, confirmed by feedback from two experienced editor friends of mine Jan Edwards and Peter Coleborn of Alchemy Press. Other member of Renegade Writers had also commented that Mouse, my main character, was losing her edge.

The trouble was I didn’t know what to do about it. I made endless notes on scrappy pieces of paper. I made myself sit down and writer down some ideas. It still wasn’t working. Getting down to writing, even getting going into my office was harder and harder.

Then I talked it through with Mike. My husband is not a writer, but over the years I’ve found that he has this knack of cutting through my creative tangles. A ten minute conversation over breakfast and all became clear.  So why had it taken so long for me to see what had to be done?

Judging by posts on Facebook I wasn’t the only writer having these problems. Was it because we didn’t want to let go of our work?  I know I hate it when I come to the end of a book. I’ve lived with these characters and situations for almost a year and I don’t want to part with them. Nor do I want that scary moment when I have to face what I’m going to do next.

Perhaps that’s the real reason why endings are difficult, because they lead to new beginnings and new beginnings bring with them new challenges.