And then, after months and months of writing, the work begins. Oh, you probably thought that the words spilled out of our brains in just the right order, like ants in a long column carrying crumbs, orderly and neat. But no, this is where the labor begins. Don’t get me wrong, it is a labor of love. And although the creative process has already been concluded, it is far from over. But let’s face fact; the most fun has been had. The story has been written. Most of what lies ahead is correcting mistakes and rewriting poorly written paragraphs.
Of course there will be chapters inserted where concepts were left poorly developed, and wonderful new seeds will be planted as ideas seep into our brains at three a.m., waking us rudely and insistently, words urging to be put down permanently lest they be lost forever, evaporated in the air like morning dew. Moments of inspiration will pop onto pages like soup spills on a table cloth, only to be erased once, later, they are deemed foolish or duplicate or unnecessary. Months and months, seasons and seasons, years and years pass, time being the writer’s best friend, before the work is complete. And even then, the novel, even after fifty or one-hundred rewrites, is never complete. It is an evolution. Every time the writer reads their own work it sees changes.
And then we edit. We edit forwards because read we the same as anyone else. Then edit we because backwards we can catch mistakes glaring in the awkward upstream current of our sentences streaming. We edit until we stand can’t the work anymore. We labor over poetic license, leaving incorrect sentences, wondering if some fool critic will question our over-use of hyphens or our abuse of semicolons.
And once we are sure we have edited out every error, we search for an open minded agent. How hard can that be? We pick out a select few who seem to like the sort of dribble we produce. But we are rejected. We are nobodies. They are self-important. So we select a few more, and again we are dismissed without any real consideration. So we send our work to every agent in the directory, hitting on every single one of them like horny desperate teenage boys desperately propositioning girls at a rave. And still we are rejected.
Dejectedly we go back to our novel, and out of boredom we rewrite. But in this final rewrite we find brilliance! Our creative juices begin to flow! We find passion and emotion and we fill our stories, like overflowing water pitchers, with a spiritual injection of life. Our novel is no longer good…it is outstanding. Our words are brilliant.
We do not edit. Why bother, we’ve already exhausted every agent in the book. But we revel, like Gods, in the wonder of our creation. Even if no one else will ever know, we have done something wonderful.
And one day, when we are at our busiest, we get a phone call. A publisher wishes to publish our book. They are not prestigious. But our words will be put to press. We do not care that the publisher is marginal. We disregard the negative words we read about them. We are being published at no cost to ourselves. An unpublished writer’s dream (well not quite…our dream would have been Knopf or Little Brown). Our work will be appreciated.
And best of all, they will handle everything.
So they publish. We are no longer nestled in the cozy seclusion of privacy. We are naked to the world. Our souls are borne out to the world for criticism. Our every sin exposed. And you, the readers, are our judges.
We receive the first batch of copies.
The cover looks brilliant.
We read our work in print. There are a few mistakes…but okay.
We read on. There are a few more errors. We read on. They have not edited the book. They published the book word for word as it was delivered. The final rewrite which was never edited by the writer: me. People are reading this. People who you’ve told you’ve finally been published are anxiously awaiting copies. And worst of all, the clock is now ticking. If you don’t get reviews soon, your book will be obsolete.
We can’t bear to read the entire book. We send it to reviewers hoping they will be kind. Meanwhile the publisher is scurrying to reprint the book, now edited by us. But hundreds of copies exist without edit.
The first review comes back. The book is wonderful! Four out of five stars, the fifth star is likely because of the editing, but four out of five!
The second review comes back. The book is wonderful…except that it is shamefully edited and the reviewer can’t believe that the author has a B.A. in English from a private university. We look for a gun. No, not to kill the reviewer; suicide is painless…or so they say.
But alas (yes, I said alas) we are still here. The gun has been safely stowed. Those thoughts were fleeting. The book has been edited and reprinted. And who knows…someone may read it after all. And someone may derive some small amount of pleasure from the words we have put on paper. we can only hope.