Last Autumn I wrote a post called 'Submitting time'.
Well, that's the one that probably should have been titled 'Editing time', but no, I was far too keen to send it off. So I said this - "As it turns out, I have no editing skills. I've read through my ms again and found a few typpos. I've shown it to a friend who said encouraging things. I think I'm just going to submit to a handful of agents and see if I get any feedback."
Which sounds both naively optimistic and shockingly lazy now. And of course the feedback for my unedited ms was largely 'No, thanks.'
But one of the agents I sent it to at the beginning of November has got back to me with a mass of editorial suggestions. Even on my first reading of her email, all her advice seemed so obviously right, it's hard to admit to myself that I would never have come up with any of it on my own. By the time I'd come to the end of her email, I was plain ashamed of myself.
And making notes.
And reading blog posts about editing on the internet - before making more notes.
So, that's what I've been up to this week - I've been learning to edit.
Agent-lady suggests losing 10 - 20,000 words. Ouch - that's hard! It took me a long time to think up all those sentences.
I tackled a middle chapter and cut 1,643 words. From the next, I cut 805 words. From the third, 472... So there is a definite pattern of reluctance here.
I suppose I'll have to cut what I can, then go back over the same chapters for another try.
On the third day, my will-power broke down and I began adding one or two new bits. Because that's what I like doing - making stuff up - it's writing!
So my strategy has now become one of cutting and adding at the same time. No, nothing can go wrong here...(What was that you said about my excessive wordcount? I can't hear you lalala!)
Although one thing I do like is the spring-cleaning feeling of having chucked out all the lines that weren't really pulling their weight. And I like the feeling of tightening - tightening - until the pace is flying along and polishing - polishing - until it reads like a proper writer might have written it.
Well, the girls all listened and painted their own delicate, watery castles-by-rivers.
Not so the boys...
|Here's one that appears to be on fire...|
|And another which is made of cheese.|
(Ochre - I said. Not yellow - ochre!)
|Oh, of course there ought to be aliens landing on the battlements.|
|Just as there ought to be sharks lurking under the little rustic bridge.|
|But when it comes to the giant zombie who has taken over the bridge and is menacing the simple castle-folk - even I draw the line (groans and bangs head on desk!)|
No, I really don't think my art club are taking me seriously anymore...