Editing. Revisions. New Drafts. We all know what the smart alec kids say: good writing is really rewriting. It’s a fact of life. Just like leftovers are always better the second and third night. Wait. That’s not true…Anyway – join me, if you dare, on my editing expedition through my most recent manuscript.
All set to go. My gear is ready: A cup of tea. A bag of mini-M&M’s. The dogs are walked. Now I carefully double-click and open the file. My excitement drains away upon a first read. It’s not nearly as good as I remember. This will be a tough slog. Tough Slog. Not a bad name for a new book.
I have laundry to do. And I need to buy dog food. I also have to stop at the postoffice. Maybe I’ll put this rewriting stuff off. You know, I should clean up the studio before I start this…
Making my way through the manuscript. It’s rough going. Adjectives are sneaking around, hiding everywhere. Must-be-careful.
Haven’t see sunlight in days. But that’s mainly because I live in Oregon. All around me present tense and past tense are mixed up. What’s that sound in the distance? It’s getting closer. There it is again! It’s just a past participle stumbling through the woods. I stop and ask if it’s OK. Everything is fine it says with a slur. And then it’s gone.
Maybe I should just write another book. Would be easier then editing this mess. No idea how long I’ve been gone. No idea if I will ever see the downstairs again. I hear the howls of wild animals. Did I feed the dogs this morning?
Entire paragraphs go missing. Gone. As if they never existed. Makes you reflect on the beauty of the delete key.
I can almost see the end of the journey. The light through the proverbial and not-so-proverbial trees. Wait a second, what exactly does PROVERBIAL mean? I need to look that up. This is the final push. My fingers are cramped. My legs itch. The stench is overwhelming. I’ll shower tonight.
Exclamation points everywhere! EVERYWHERE!!!! Get the machete out and start falling those heinous beasts.
So tired. The sentences dance about on their own. Nothing makes sense. What was I saying in this paragraph? I’m not sure. Then the words from deep in the jungle scream out: DELETE IT! DEETE IT! DELETE EVERYTHING. I’m almost at the end of this dark journey. The manuscript mocks me – “You’re an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks to collect a bill.”
I’m done. DONE! I can’t take it anymore. I pronounce this done! Words have been moved. Sentences slashed. Adjectives obliterated…mostly. I make my way downstairs and decide to prepare dinner. No frozen pizza tonight. I greet my daughter when she gets off the bus. She doesn’t remember me. She’s grown so much I hardly recognize her. After dinner and dishes, the manuscript calls out. It’s strange voice echoing in an octave only I can hear. It sings to me, “Time to start the next draft.” And I know I will have to go back.
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