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?
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