OMG I'm alive! No really, it was hit or miss there for a few weeks. Where have I been, you might ask? Well, I've been editing UNVEILED. And that has been a roller coaster. I'm sure that I've done something like this in the past, but I feel like I need to take you on the journey with me. Some edits are easy. Some are spiritual journeys. Some are slogs through hell. I leave it to you to decide for yourselves which of these describes developmental edits on UNVEILED.
It started last month when I read Danielle Poiesz's editorial letter. Now, when I sent her the manuscript, I knew it wasn't perfect. But a small part of me felt like the story was solid enough, good enough and that no major, load-bearing walls contained issues. Basically, I'd been able to convince myself:
So, when I read Danielle's initial reactions and suggestions about the manuscript...well... I poured myself a glass of something alcoholic and slept on it. Thing is, I didn't even need that night of sleep to know that my editor was right about EVERY point she made. There were problems with character agency, likability. Certain scenes lacked emotional punch. Some rambled a bit. Others didn't flesh out the rules of the world enough. Danielle also felt that the book didn't explain enough of WILD CARD to help introduce new readers to the world of Cat Sharp. Not a damn thing Danielle brought up was unwarranted.
Taken down a few pegs from my hubris, I looked at the manuscript with Danielle's comments in mind. And there was only one way to describe UNVEILED at that time:
I took Danielle's revision letter and scribbled a war plan into a notebook. Here's how I would address this issue. This scene could move here. This would be written out entirely. After I formulated a plan, I talked with Danielle and ran a few ideas past her, got some feedback and clarification on some of her notes. Together we were able to solidify a direction for whipping UNVEILED into some semblance of order.
No, not that kind of whip.
Anyway...there was a plan. And I set forth with a "Let's rock this shit" attitude. I dove in that very moment. At the time, the manuscript was just over 72k words long. For the next 2 weeks I scrounged all the time I could--my daughter is home on summer break, so I have to do that whole parent thing...it is Job #1--by going to coffee shops or politely kicking my husband and daughter out of my house so that I could work my tail off.
It took me two weeks just to slog through the first 6 chapters. I knew, though, if I could just get through those chapters, I'd start the snowball rolling. Besides, fixing a lot of the problems in Act 1 would straighten out the kinks in Act 3. So I doubled my bubble and toiled with the trouble of all that shit I wrote a couple of years ago.
Somewhen around chapter 18, I hit a wall. I don't know if it was hormonal (writing with depression can sometimes be a hall of funhouse mirrors, but that's a blog topic for another day), or if it was the moon or if I'd just had some bad sushi, but I spent a good week wallowing.
The words wouldn't come. The changes didn't seem to help the fact that the book just plain sucked. I started second guessing everything...from my choice of verbs to the underwear I put on that morning. Nothing was safe.
Part of the problem (other than being chemically imbalanced from time to time) is that I've already written Book 3 of this series. And I think Book 3 is the fucking bees knees.
For comparison: Book 2
UNVEILED just refused to live up to its sibling. What the everloving fuck, Book 2? Don't you realize that even though I wrote you before Book 3, you're still supposed to be just as good or better than that rough draft?
They make me so angry!
This book SUCKS! I suck! I should never have done the Kickstarter. I should give up writing all together. I shouldn't be allowed to call myself a writer. How do I end the suffering?
I sat down with people I love (and who love me) and explained that I've had them fooled. No really. I suck that much. One of them proceeded to hit me repeatedly with a pillow. Then, this was posted to my Facebook wall.
In fact, between making this face so much and the teeth-grinding from going to bed still working out things in my head...well, I think I've aggravated my TMJ. Yeah. My jaw is killing me.
But, I digress.
I finished the first run through the book. I made all the major changes that needed changing and realized that I'd added more than 8k words.
Oops. But they were needed! So, I took a day and let my brain relax. Then I dove back in from page one on a proofread of sorts. I needed to make sure that all of my seams were smooth, that I didn't leave things dangling and that I'd kept up continuity what with all that remodeling I'd done.
Well...it looked about like you'd expect construction site to look. Somewhat messy with tools laying everywhere. I found continuity errors, shitty syntax and other issues. Well... to be frank, it pissed me off. I cursed like a sailor and a king.
I went batshit fucking crazy until I figured the only thing was to put on a tiara and proclaim myself High Priestess of Tea and Trail Mix.
Then... something happened. Somewhere around my second pass through Chapter 21, I found this book's VOICE. I found its beating heart and tapped into everything that makes it live. I met UNVEILED's soul.
In that moment, I felt mighty.
Yeah. I finished a second round of edits on UNVEILED finally feeling like it was meeting its potential. I did not, in fact, suck.
That was last week.
Since then, I've done another full pass of edits on the book. (Because while I was finishing that second run and finding all the good shit UNVEILED has to offer, I realized that I needed to tend to the beginning as well and make sure everything matched.) During THAT pass, I realized that I've got a few phrases that I use. Constantly.
I finished the third pass of edits last night--the book more than 11k longer than the original draft I'd sent Danielle--and emailed the book to my editor. With a few hours to spare on deadline day.
Basically, I wanted to tell all of you this because a) it's entertaining, b) misery loves company but also c) there's a lesson here. That lesson is this:
Also, I had a shit ton of gifs I felt like using.
Seriously. Editing can be affirming. It can make you stronger in your confidence, in your voice. Or it could break you. But only if you let it. Keep going. Keep writing. Keep pushing yourself to write better, to make that line fucking sparkle. Don't settle for a nickel sentence when you are capable of million dollar babies.
Remember, the tiny potato believes in you.
And so do I.