The joy and the pain of the third draft

I am now better than a third of the way through entering the red-pen edits on Princess of Shadows. I’m making good changes, and the word count is coming down (not quickly, but it’s getting there). As drawn-out as the process is, its visibly making this piece stronger with each page I complete.

Every time I do this sort of editing, though, I re-learn a truth– even what I have marked down on the hard-copy is subject to negotiation. I will enter entire pages of edits, and then something will catch my eye, I’ll read a particular passage again, and I’ll think, Well, I can get that even tighter, or I really should put that back in. I’ll hit a certain passage and realize it needs a little expansion, or I’ll wonder how the hell did I miss that convoluted piece of grammar?

If this were simply a matter of entering changes I could do fifty pages a night and have finished the business by now. Instead, I do find myself thinking and rethinking as I go (this is quite aside from the extra minutes I spend trying to figure out what I meant by now-obscure scribbles). The end result is that most pages have at least some extra thought going into them.

This process also, once again, rubs my nose in my bad habits. I think I’ve internalized avoiding excess adjectives and adverbs, but for some reason my viewpoint characters’ perceptions of things are highly tentative and qualified, at least in draft– to them most things ‘apparently’ ‘perhaps’ ‘seem to be’ about to happen. It’s like these guys don’t trust anything in their universe to be what it is. I’m spending a lot of time correcting this sort of thing, but it may eventually come down to a search and destroy mission with find and replace.

I hope to maintain a better pace over the next week or so, but life is still lobbing mortar shells at me at odd intervals. Most especially, my day-job situation is far from resolved. I wish I could say that this is the moment I begin my career as a full-time writer, but my sales on Kindle are nowhere near what they need to be to justify that sort of transtion (they are, in fact, rather close to what you would call ‘zero’). So the best I can do at the moment is to do the best I can do.



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