I’m finally done………..sort of. Consolidating all the notes and suggestions I got from nine readers of the third draft of my novel has been an invigorating experience. And, I’m not just saying that for some future agent or editor to pull from here and fling in my face when I complain about revising.
Really. I’m not.
In case I haven’t pounded it out enough times, I am writing a novel. Living with pretend people who insist upon being given page time and wake me up in the middle of the night and veer in unexpected directions has been a surreal experience in recent months. I’ve probably written close to a quarter of a million words to drill down to the 80,000 or so that will end up in my final draft. Stringing that many letters, phrases, locations and people together is mammoth. It is impossible for me to even remember what I’ve written, let alone be able to ‘see’ the whole work.
That’s why I asked nine people to read my third draft. I needed fresh eyeballs on the story to help me determine whether it was worth telling. Asking those nine people to read for me was not an attempt to exclude others. I had specific reasons for giving the book to each of them, and they fulfilled their roles beautifully.
After feeling like I’ve been living in a hole with imaginary people for months, it was rewarding to have real people engage with my fantasy world. Nobody thought my book ready for submission, but I didn’t expect them to. That’s the scariest part of giving out a third draft: the writer knows it isn’t ready, but she can’t always see its shortcomings anymore. It’s a state of vulnerability I haven’t felt since I was ordered to cry on the spot in an audition for ‘King Lear.’
Now, I will spend the coming weeks going through the eye of the needle to arrive at a final draft of my book. I feel like I’m supposed to perform surgery, and I might fall and splat my head open on the hard tile floor before I even make the first incision. I don’t have a problem cutting my own words. They aren’t precious. The thing I fear is striking something good and letting the banal remain.
I have to readjust the way I see. Again.
Those nerdy surgeon super-glasses sure would help.