They say writing isn’t a sprint but a marathon. I say its a goddamned möbius strip.
Two months of heavy editing on my historical adventure novel and it’s finally finished.
I say that because I’ve gone through more than a dozen rounds of revision on this book and each of the last five or six times I thought I really was done.
Maybe this is a normal part of the writing process and maybe it means I’m shit on a hot stick and need to find another hobby.
Hard to say.
What I do know is that I give my manuscript to a paid reader who returns the pages with their thoughts on how the story could be improved.
Then, I go line by line from the beginning.
I reread the words.
I replace some words.
I recite passages aloud.
I correct spelling errors.
I rewrite wonky paragraphs.
I move paragraphs around.
I write new paragraphs.
I spend forty-five minutes staring at 175 words that don’t quite make sense but feel as though they truly belong … somewhere.
When I’m lucky, I find a spot for them farther up or down the page or in a different chapter altogether.
As I am what Stephen King calls a “putter-inner,” I usually don’t lose words in my revisions but add a few.
This time, I went from an 86,000-word manuscript—which I have been working on since sometime in 2015—to just a frog-pube over 107,000 words.
I know. I know.
The goal of editing isn’t normally to increase the volume.
However, I swear on my dead mother’s corpse that each and every one of those vowels, consonants, and p-p-punctuation marks were necessary.
What? My mother’s not dead?
When all this is done, I close my laptop and stare at the wall with a great sense of accomplishment … which is three seconds hence dry-humped by self-doubt.
I don’t know about you (why would I?) but this transitioning from slavish writing routine to suddenly having no brutal taskmaster mewling in one’s ear for attention initiates a trick-peanut-brittle-can-black-hole effect which threatens to crush the spirit … and evaporate the bourbon reserves.
Finishing a book project also means moving on to the part I least enjoy—trying to sell the fucking thing.
I mean, I really hate it.
I don’t want to search for an agent.
I don’t want to negotiate with a publisher.
I can’t imagine having to bang people over the head with my story on Facebook and Twitter and whatever the hell Instagram is.
So, I generally end up just starting a new book project and writing short stories and pretty much ignoring all that scary authoring type stuff.
Which is probably why I have four books and zero book deals. And that sucks because I think I’ve got some pretty thinky, entertaining stories to share.
What do I know.
Still, I promised myself and the only three people who give a rat’s ass whether I put pencil to paper that I’d work on submitting my stuff.
Can I call my life’s work “stuff” and be taken seriously?
Though, how pretentious is it to call your scribblings “my life’s work.”
Ugh, what a douche.
Anyways … that’s exactly what I did.
I’ve been working up a pitch in my spare time so that, when the historical adventure novel was finished, I could send it right off to a potential publisher.
And I did.
The very night I finished what ended up being a two-month revision spree (clocking easily 40 hours per week on the damned thing) I submitted to a publishing house which just so happens to be taking un-agented submissions.
Regardless of whether they show any interest, I’ve got other books to send to agents and short stories to write and the notes for the novel I plan to pen in 2019 burning a hole in my non-existent genuine buffalo hide messenger bag that costs like $489.00 plus shipping—hint-hint!
The moral of the story is the work never ends.
The wife once asked when I’d like to retire.
I said retire from what: reading, writing, drinking coffee and eating sandwiches? Listening to Once Upon A Time in Paris a hundred times a day? Giggling over my own witty (according to me of course) prose or luxuriating in someone else’s? Discovering a new word that tickles my middle third? Or penciling a paragraph that brings tears to someone’s eyes?
I’m more than OK doing the same thing over and over and over again. Cripe, that’s what writing is: think-scribble-revise-repeat.
Just call me Mr. Möbius. After all, someone’s got to write all these books nobody is reading.