Nearly a month ago, I finished the first draft of my first novel, and moved into the brand new (for me) world of editing.
It’s been rather different than I expected it to be. Isn’t it funny how things often work out that way?
For one thing, for the first time in my life, reading has been one of the most difficult things for me. I’ve been re-reading my novel to see where things need to be shifted, what changes need to be made. I’m sure there will be some new scenes created (I already have some new ideas!) and there will be some that just get a big giant “X” over the top. That’s okay – even eliminating is part of the process.
I told myself I was going to read it through once just to see where I was at, and then go back and start creating the redlined version. I can usually sit down and go through a 350-page book in a couple of days, no sweat. So I figured I would give myself a week just to be safe. Oh, was I wrong. I’ve now been in the process of the first read through for almost a full month and I’m still not even done. I’m trying to stick to my original plan – although that’s starting to feel more like stubbornness than commitment. I can’t tell you yet why it’s so hard to simply read your own work, but trust me: it is.
The other thing that’s been really tough for me is not reading. My parents may not believe this, but I’ve made it through almost an entire month without reading any book but my own. This, from the girl who was “reading” before she really knew how to read. I would request the same story be read to me over and over again until I had it memorized word for word and could sit you down and “read” it to you. Oh, I was good.
Still, I know that what you write has a little bit of a tendency to sound like what you’ve read. I don’t mind people noticing the influence of other authors – after all, every creative mind has some inspiration from other artists. Still, you want to sound like yourself, in word usage and in flow. So I decided that I wouldn’t immerse myself in other people’s work until I was really done with mine.
I guess I’ve learned that you really can give up anything. It’s been very difficult, because reading is such a go-to for me. I used to read any and everywhere. I always had a book in my purse and often took one out to read at lunch. I expect my nightstand is lonely and wonders where all its companions have gone. Any quiet moment used to be filled up with stories, and now I have to find new things to fill it with. Because, let’s be real, I can’t drag the two-inch binder that my manuscript is currently occupying around with me everywhere.
So far progress is slow, but it is coming. And today as I drove home from work I discovered a new layer of depth into an issue that one of my characters faces in the story and I realized something: I really love discovering more about these people inside my head.