I feel stuck between the two above. Like I have so much to say – that’s why I’m now up to 39,500 almost-entirely new words on my manuscript written since Wednesday, November 5 – and like I can’t say any of it because, you know, that’s the whole point of publishing it as a book. For people to read it all together, when it’s ready.
I guess what I can talk about is this process, and how it takes me by surprise every time. How I should know by now that, after my editor’s first read-through, I’m going to completely trash a majority of the book – and I do mean a majority, although this time, at well over ninety per cent, it’s a pretty extreme case.
So, I should know that, because it always happens, but it also always catches me off guard. That I’m going to need to do this. That I’m going to want to do it. That, very quickly, it will be hard for me to believe the book was any other way than the new way, with the new words.
The other thing that’s so weird about it – and I still don’t have an explanation – is how I literally re-write / revise the book a minimum of a dozen times – and probably closer to twenty times – and I feel like each time I’m getting a little closer, and a little better and then, in one fell swoop, I turn the whole thing upside-down, and write completely new scenes, and characters, and kill old storylines, and characters and then that version – the one that’s really just been written once, very quickly – is usually very nearly the version that I publish and, also, it’s still the same story. Different words, same book. Maybe just a truer version of the book.
I asked my editor about this last time; how can this new, fresh, piece of work be OK to publish without also going through twenty revisions? And how can it still be the same story?
I don’t think either of us can nail it down, exactly, but I do think it links to something Hugh Howey said, that I’ve referenced before, that we’re not writing these stories – we’re remembering, and re-telling them. Maybe, for me, it takes all this writing around the perimeter of the real story, before enough layers are peeled back for me to really get at it. And then, finally, I see it glittering in front of me, and scribble it down, and all is good.
Or, maybe, I’ll send it to my editor and she’ll ask, “What on earth were you thinking, and why did you do this?”
All I can say is it’s been an awesome ride, and well worth it. A binge I wouldn’t trade in. An extended high.
But I’m not sure if I have the stamina to do it again, so I hope she likes it …