What happens when you edit?


Well, a funny thing happens when you do an editing pass on your novel. Some part of you expects cuts to be the result, but what really happens is that your novel sort of unfurls and stretches out, something like a cat in a sunbeam, confident in its own presence.


That's what happening to Twisted Cord right now. Sure. There are occasional double-headers (putting the same word close to itself / that's how much it's in your mind), typos (heaven help me, I will need your help with the typos, Second Readers), and homonyms (rain is not rein, Tracy), but I also have the challenge of Orth, and using the right words in Orth. It means a lot of checking when I don't, in fact, recall the spelling, or, less frequently, the meaning of a word. Sibb is one of those that happened recently. It's Orth for 'peace'. Peace is prized by the King and, in spite of having a rather flaming temper, he's spent most of his life cultivating it. But I keep spelling it sibbe. How out of patience would the King be, I wonder, with me as a scribe? I can just about hear him stop in his dictations to look over my bent shoulder and sound frostily exasperated, 'And there is still no "e", kes.... Perhaps in a few more centuries....' before he saunters onward.


But that's what it's like to edit a novel. You make mistakes! Not with the majority of it, but in the dusty corners of it. An author who fears judgment for those inevitabilities (a word this website's dictionary does not contain, btw) is going to shrink from publishing. They will be too afraid to hit 'Go' because they will read any error as 'failure'. They scarcely notice that the majority of the book is just fine. They won't allow a margin of error. Not any.


More important, though, than the embarrassment of errors in your work are a couple of other human emotions. First is humility. To err is simply our condition. Imperfection says as much about the writer, the writing conditions, the whole, entire effort (and make no mistake it is a lot of effort), as the framework against which that error stands. Second is grit. To publish, you have to have a lot of grit. Get the work as clean as you can, then send it out into the world. Don't let perfect be the enemy of good. Because there is no 'perfect', besides, the third point is one of the most important. Arguably, it is why people write novels.


Third is for others. Yes, you might like the story you write, but there are people out there for whom it will be a bit more than just a few hours' fun. They will read back your book more than once. Several times. Some will return to it across years... and then write you about it, or just... to check in on you, or thank you. The book will cheer them when they're cheerless, and warm them when the world seems stone cold, it will show them mercy when their world seems ruthless. I've discovered that what is a passion of mine may find some seed in a reader and nourish it. Yes! Even fantasy novels do this! (As they've done it for me in the past.) Sometimes, love bleeds right through the pages, and can sweep the world away for a little while. A book can be a gateway, an escape, and a comfort. I've heard back from too many people to believe otherwise. This book it getting very long. That will probably effect the number of readers I get on it, as the preference, these days, is for shorter works (I'm told). But it's my book, and there are a tonne of reasons for it to be the way that it is. I don't write according to trends. I do write to sort of... reach people. That's what I'm working on right now. I want this book be entertaining! But also to reach other people. My hope for these edits is that they remove barriers and let the words do that work!

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