Editing on the water


Our anchorage off the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort on Vanua Levu in Fiji

Our anchorage off the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort on Vanua Levu in Fiji

by Christine Kling

The common wisdom when it comes to editing a manuscript is to put it aside for a few days and then come back to it with fresh eyes. This time I followed the common wisdom and then some— by putting it aside for a month and sailing 2,000 miles to another hemisphere.

Coming back to the book now and reading my wonderful editor’s comments, I feel elated. He likes it! He says it holds together! Believe me, I had my doubts.

This story is so much more complicated than anything I have written before, and I already had such a difficult time keeping the last two books straight in my head. Sometimes I have these great “Ah ha!” moments, and I make some change to the book. Now, a month later, I look at some of those passages, and I can barely remember writing them. I have a hard time following my own convoluted story. I wish I had time to make a giant wall graph of it all. With 86 chapters and 132,000 words, even my outline doesn’t fit on my computer screen, and the chapter headings don’t really explain all the twists and turns that occur.

Happy as I am that my editor has such nice things to say about the book, that doesn’t mean there isn’t some comment or correction on 80% of the pages. It’s difficult, demanding work to go through and read and address all the places where he said the story gave him pause for one reason or another. What I love about his editing is that he reads the book as a careful reader—not as a writer. He leaves most of that stuff for the copy editor. He points out the places where he got confused or bored or where he laughed and perhaps that wasn’t what I intended. Then it’s up to me to figure out how to make the words on the page match the story that’s in my head—the story I want my readers to see in their heads.

I do love the editing process, but I only have a few days left to finish this pass through, and I’m not allowing myself to go ashore until I finish. Take a look at the photo of our anchorage above off the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort. Can you see why I’m in a hurry to finish?

Fair winds!


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About Christine Kling

I have spent more than thirty years living on and around boats and cruising the waters of the North and South Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Caribbean. I’ve written articles and stories for many boating publications including Sailing, Cruising World, Motor Boating & Sailing, and The Tiller and the Pen. When I was married, I helped my husband build a 55-foot custom sailing yacht. After launching her, we sailed through the Panama Canal to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands where we chartered for over two years. While in the islands, I received my 100-ton Auxiliary Sail Captains license. It was that sailing experience that led me to set my first nautical suspense novel, SURFACE TENSION (2002), on the waterfront in Fort Lauderdale. Featuring Florida female tug and salvage captain, Seychelle Sullivan, the first book was followed by CROSS CURRENT (2004) and BITTER END (2005). The fourth book in the series, WRECKERS’ KEY was released in February 2007. At the end of the 2010-11 academic year, I took the motto of this blog to heart. I quit my day job as an English professor at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale (just when they offered me tenure, I said no thanks and took early retirement). I was living the dream of full-time cruising on board my 33-foot Caliber Talespinner on my very tiny pension and whatever I made from my books having parted ways with the big publishing establishment. I self-published two books on my own: a small collection of four short stories entitled SEA BITCH: Four Tales of Nautical Noir and my first stand-alone sailing thriller set in the Caribbean, CIRCLE OF BONES. In 2012 I was offered a publishing deal with Amazon's mystery/thriller imprint Thomas&Mercer and they reissued CIRCLE OF BONES. The sequel to that book, DRAGON'S TRIANGLE came out in June 2014. And as for me, I'm no longer a singlehander on my little boat. I met Wayne Hodgins in 2013 and after a whirlwind Skype courtship, I flew to meet him in Fiji and we sailed a nearly 2000 mile passage to the Marshall Islands for our "first date." We now sail together aboard LEARNATIVITY, a 52-foot motor sailor with our family including Barney, the Yorkshire Terror and Ruby, the Wonder Dog.
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