If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my first novel, Noah’s Ark (oh, hindsight, you’re crueler and kinder than a well-meaning parent), it’s that editing pays dividends. As hard as it is to look back at the work you spent months caressing into what you think is the perfect shape, it only takes a quick re-read to see that the perfect shape is not perfect at all: it’s covered in blisters and scabs, and needs medication.
Self editing isn’t an impossibility, but, without immense discipline, it mirrors the age-old interview question ‘what are your negative qualities?’ I care too much. I’m too handsome. I suffer from excessive humbleness. You get the picture.
So I drafted the services of an editor, and now his work is done, and my work lies in tatters. At least, that’s how it feels, but when I quit my sobbing I’ll see it’s all good. Trimming words best left to the imagination, scraping the wobbly fat from the tender meat — it’s actually a rewarding process, a good shower after a hard day’s work.
I’m a few chapters in now, with plenty more to go. Hopefully I’ll be done by the end of the month. In the meantime, I’ll send my first three to a selection of agents, but that’s a whole other road of torturous pain. More on that next week.