A lot of red ink

I am finally bringing myself to sit down and begin the task of editing/re-writing a novel I finished a few months back. In the spirit of using the blog as confessional, this is a project that I took far too long on completing the first draft of. Most of the idea was pretty much in my head from the start, I did the normal pre-writing stuff that usually doesn’t help much in the end (and it didn’t this time, either, other than helping me keep the characters straight) and then I began to trudge through the process of writing.

Which is odd because writing it, when I actually sat down and worked on it, wasn’t that much work. The words came fairly easily and, when I would make myself sit down and do it, I could get through good chunks of it at the time. It was just forcing myself to sit down and work on it that was the problem. And after the initial thrust took so long to repeat, I was just sort of burned out on it and didn’t want to look at it for awhile.

So I didn’t. Until a couple of days ago. Then I hefted the thing out of my messenger bag (I want to call it an attache and give it some degree of respectability but I also can’t help but think of it as a big leather man purse) and have started going through it with the trusty red pen and an open notebook that I’ve used from teh start to keep my notes in. Two things became immediately clear.

One, I see why I wrote it so quickly. It needs a lot of work on the re-write. The ideas are solid but the language and construction need some definite overhauls. I have already came across whole paragraphs where I like what I want to say but disagree entirely with how I’m trying to say it.

Second, it has amazed me how far I have come as a writer since I had written the opening pages of this thing so long ago. Even if I would have sensed there was something wrong upon a re-reading then, I don’t believe I would have had the requisite skills to zero in and fix it. Or at least attempt to fix it. Now I can feel myself viewing it from a different level of experience and ability. And I also see why it takes me longer to write something now as I actually notice how much more effort and time I take in constructing something.

While it feels somewhat encouraging to be able to take a clear notice of this evolution in my writing, the red blanketing my manuscript is also a sobering reminder of how much work still lies ahead of me. But I feel like I know where I am going now. I have a map for these territories. Here there are no longer monsters.


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