I said somewhere that I would ‘splain myself–that I would share what was happening, what went wrong, my plans and future steps about the manuscript. I know a lot of eye-rolling is coming my way, but I can’t concern myself with that. The book will be done when it’s done.
Sorry that I can’t call it “finished” yet. Crying wolf is right, but I swear, I am very close. It may sound like the next step I want to do now is monumental, but it really isn’t. Not in the scheme of things. Not in terms of “reward” anyway.
First of all, after about a million other realizations throughout this long and arduous process, the latest one was when I started editing the manuscript during the second week of October–I mistakenly used the version I received back from the copy editor. This was such a huge mistake. I should have used the version I gave to him and started from the beginning (not the beginning beginning; the book as I had worked it up to the end of May). The reason I didn’t do that was because I didn’t know just how intense his changes were going to be until I was deep into it all. I also was happy that he’d shortened it, so I just started with his version as the base.
Then I made all of my changes. Twice.
At the end of the second time through, I called it “done.” I announced it to the world. I thought I only needed it proofed. I closed up the file and didn’t look at it for a bit over a week. But remember, I’d been working on the thing night and day, with little sleep.
Then I opened it because I needed to grab a random chapter for my final report for NADC grant. I was looking for, more or less, a pedestrian chapter. I scanned through them and read the first couple of paragraphs in each. All of them were riddled with major mistakes, but it wasn’t even that. It was the writing. Who the hell? I do not speak like that! I do not write like that. Why didn’t I see this? I hate this. Why did this happen?
Because I was sleep deprived!
I’ve been too close to it. I see now, I need a goddamned break!
Another thing is: the chapter I decided to use for my report, I can’t believe what happened to it. I will talk about it here, just as an example to explain why I am going to do what I’m about to do…This chapter was originally pretty long–somewhere around 3K words, which is the average of every chapter. When I first began stringing the book together like a narrative, I used locations in and around Los Angeles; each chapter was a place I lived. I lived in so many places that the book became too long! So I took two places my family lived and squished them together into one chapter, trying to bring the reader up to speed by describing the previous place we lived into a couple of paragraphs, condensing the previous 3,000 words. That’s a lot of cutting.
Well, somehow the chapter of which I speak, is now 1,300 words. In total. So that’s a cut from 6,000 to 1,300. Sounds great–to a publisher…but fuck that! All the good stuff is gone. And, it reads like it’s written like someone who went to a university or something. It’s lost it’s excitement. In my opinion.
Nothing against education. I am 100% for being as educated as humanly possible. I have been doing the best I can to get educated all my life. I have spent more time at the public library than anyone I know (as a kid) and I’ve taken a few English classes at the LA Unified colleges here and there. I proudly have no degrees of any sort though. (Well, that’s not true. I may have a couple of Dean’s list certificates that I could give a shit about.) That’s not my point exactly. Though, I am a good student, see? My point is that I write like a person that carved out their own voice from trial and error. I believe it’s here in the sentences. Maybe it’s not perfect. Maybe it stings the eyes of literary editors and publishers worldwide, but I don’t care.
So, I want to take a break and not look at the book at all. For a while. If one week gave me this clarity, think what a month or more can do. When I come back, I am going to start with that manuscript from May and do a side-by-side comparison edit so that I can add the new stuff and do my best to ignore the word count counter. Ha!
I’ll also be limiting my workload to one or two chapters a day.