I have finally completed the hard-copy edit of Princess of Fire. A process that should have taken two to three weeks, tops, instead took nearly six. As has been the case with this novel, all estimates of how long any phase of its writing would take have been wildly wide of the mark. I can claim to have lost one week to the late-season bug that ravaged Seattle across the end of April and into May, against which the much-vaunted flu shot was useless (during the spring musical at my daughter’s high school kids were throwing up in the orchestra pit). Otherwise, it’s been the same combination of ennui and allowing myself to be distracted by other matters, particularly my job search (still lost in the wilderness at this point).
Not that the extra time wasn’t, in the end, productive– as is usually the case, the hard-copy edit brought out a myriad of lingering issues– inconsistencies in the story’s timeline, the disappearance and sudden reappearance of characters, lame action, lamer dialogue, horrifying repetition, and, far from the least, extensive passive language.
Here’s one of the more, um, amended pages–
(As is usual with my red-pen edits, I do have some concern that I won’t remember what some of these squiggles mean when I go to add them to the working copy of the novel. But that’s normal).
Taking more time for the hard-copy edit has also had one side-benefit– it allowed me to noodle away a little longer on a particularly problematic piece of climactic action, and to come up with what I think is a much more satisfactory solution. About two thousand words will go out, and a different two thousand (or so) will go in. But this change will also necessitate my going back into the narrative at earlier points and laying a certain item on the mantel, so to speak. This, too, is normal.
For me, the latter stages of creating a novel is very much like fine-tuning an engine–it works, it’s running, but you need deal with the huge cloud of smoke it’s producing and, oh, yeah, the cylinders aren’t all firing in sync, and so on. It takes time, but it’s worth it.
Once I’ve inputted the red-pen changes (um, a week? Maybe?) I will make a PDF copy via Createspace, which will allow me to see how the pages break, and to create a punch-list of further corrections (mostly at the level of “oh my God, an extra hard-return!”), and then, finally, to send the book to my beta-readers. Publication will follow soon after.
At this point, I might be two months away from uploading this book. But I am making no promises…oh, no, no, no….