I think I finished the first draft of The Fiddler’s Gun about six years ago and since then it’s been through edits and rewrites many times over. I’m amazed that each time I finish an edit I feel like the manuscript is strong, lean, and well-written yet every time I pick it up again to take another look I find a thousand more things that I can improve. When does it end? Argh! The last time I took a fresh critical look at the manuscript was about a year ago. So at the beginning of April when I went back to it for another round of editing I felt, once again, like it probably wasn’t going to be much work. Wrong. Honestly, I think this was the biggest edit I’ve ever done. I rewrote entire scenes, added new ones, got rid of a minor character or two, and even made some significant changes to the ending. So now that it’s done I find myself, once again, feeling like it’s in good shape. Surely the editing is finally over with, right?
Wishful thinking, I assure you. This weekend I’ll be delivering the manuscript into the capable hands of my editor. I expect that from her vantage point of complete objectivity she’ll point out a ghastly number of further issues that are likely to reduce me to a state of gibbering idiocy and leave me crouched in the corner and mewling like a wounded cat. Have you ever heard a grown man mewl? It’s fascinating--and more fun than you’d expect. That’s what editors get paid for though, right?
The great thing about repeated editing, though, is the discovery that you’re getting ever closer to mastering the craft of writing. What looked good to me six years ago when I jumped up and down for joy at having completed a first draft, now makes me shudder and mewl. In fact, the process of editing itself is so effective a tutor that by the time I’m finished with an edit I feel like I need to start over right then and there because I learned so much throughout the process that the first half of the manuscript got the short end of the editing stick.
For the moment though, I’m happy. The manuscript is stronger than it’s ever been and I really do look forward to hearing about any issues that crop up once my editor has a chance to chew on it. In the meantime I’ve got another book that I’m excited about getting back to work on and I’ve got a neat idea or three for the website that I’ll be trying to implement.