The Writer's Life

In the Throws of Edits

Every novelist will tell you that writing a book is the easy part. Editing it is the pits. When an author takes her imagination and free write her book without a scripted outline or any idea of where she is going, the story flows like jagged rocks tumbling down a mountainside and crashing into the next roadside victim.

I wrote Grandfather’s Whispers many years ago. It was the toughest journey I had to take. The book was my therapeutic release from a troubling childhood that plagued me well into adulthood. Unfortunately, upon its completion, I made several edits in red ink and neglected to enter them into the computer. I also wrote down various notes throughout the years that I still find in unpacked boxes from my office. And I put off these edits for far too long. The birth of my son gave me one more excuse to procrastinate.

The uniqueness of this novel is what propels me forward. It is imbued with mysticism, tragedy, heartache, and joy. Although it mirrors other works of fiction, such as Mitch Albom’s For One More Day and Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, I have confidence in its ability to stand alone. The most challenging part of editing this book is not the spelling errors that scream in my head like big-haired metal bands, the blatant misuse of grammar to keep moving along in the book by getting the words out on a page, the red marks that seem to flow like a sea of blood on some pages more than others, or the incoherent late-night scribbles on scraps of paper. (All of which are tedious and time-consuming to interpret.) It is the memories.

I dive into this fictional novel, determined to slash another page with my green highlighter so that I can finally move forward to the publishing process. I’m on pins and needles to finish this project. However, about an hour into the editing process, I would be consumed with exhaustion. I know this book is a work of fiction created in my mind by a vision and a passion for writing. I spent many long and grueling hours pulling inspiration from my past to build up likable characters with heart-wrenching experiences. Unfortunately, the memories that Grandfather’s Whispers triggers make it feel real to me. I have been dragging my feet through the mud for the last hour.

How do I overcome the hurdle of past pain? What do I do with the current feelings of discouragement? How do I regain good sleep without the past popping into my dreams?

Taking a break from the book may be the solution I am looking for., a little reprieve, even if it is only for a day or a week. It will help me return to my happy life balance. Stepping back and looking at this novel from a different perspective may also help stave off negative feelings. After all, these are not my memories I edit but those of my protagonist.

I have committed each day to the edits of this book while permitting myself to step away periodically. I hope that the next time I update you, I will have completed the inked edits and finished the final draft. Eventually, I will have my synopsis written and be able to share that with you, as well. As I muck through the corrections, I feel the giddiness of an attainable dream coming to fruition. I want this dream so bad that I can taste it, and Grandfather’s Whispers will be my debut novel.