The cost of doing things right

The last few days have been weird. I’m down to about one hundred pages left to edit on the second draft of Princess of Shadows, but that number’s deceptive. In truth, I have been brought to a shuddering halt. I knew that I would have to substantially re-work the Bleak sequence, but I didn’t anticipate throwing out a couple thousand words and starting the section over from scratch. The end result will be better (I think) but my net progress has fallen to virtually zero.

That was before I was thrown a complete curve ball. I had made a few changes to Princess of Wonders and Princess of Secrets, pretty minor stuff, and I sent Amazon a request to post a notice that updated versions of the novels are available for the (small) number of customers who have bought the books. Amazon, per their policy, ran a scan and detected not only lingering typos (sigh), but outright formatting errors that came out of my pure, appalling ignorance of a simple bookmarking technique in Word. It didn’t help that I had to ask for help on the Kindle boards to understand what Amazon was asking for.

In the end, after correcting the formatting issue, I surrendered to something I had been putting off while drafting Princess of Shadows— taking another editing pass at both published novels. From the feedback I’ve received in reviews, I knew there were still issues with both texts, despite my previous editing efforts. So for the last few days I have halted all efforts on Princess of Shadows to focus on running through Princess of Wonders and Princess of Secrets again. My original intent in posting updated versions of my published novels was to make clean copies available for customers by the time Princess of Shadows is ready, and I finally realized nothing less than a full pass would suffice.

I’ve now finished this effort on Wonders, but I’m still working through Secrets. So far most of the errors I’ve found are minor– for some reason (a failed find and replace?) I had a bunch of extra spaces associated with closed quotes. I also have a terrible tendency to drop words in the heat of composition, e.g., “He armed nuclear weapon.” Ugh.

But the hardest part of the edit is reading through both books and seeing things that apparently I thought were okay when I first wrote them, but now look clunky. I suppose this is a sign of growth as a writer, and I have the excuse that Wonders was first drafted six years ago, Secrets four, and both spent years in over-the-transom hell waiting for an agent to notice them. It still takes some of the wind out of my sails that these works were not all they should have been when I published them.

Well, I just defended, with some vigor, the right of amateurs like me to publish their work without professional intervention. In case I didn’t make it clear before, I understand perfectly that that freedom does come with a cost– the necessity of doing my best to get the text right. It’s not only fair to my customers, it’s a point of pride with me.

But nobody said this was easy– especially when it’s clear that I am learning as I go. Hopefully I am learning, both the craft of writing and the craft of publishing. If I am, then maybe the next novel, and the novel after that, won’t suck quite so egregiously.

Oh my God, did I just say something positive? Maybe I have a fever….



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