I finally sent Baby Blues to the proofreader today.
I like that sentence. Somehow it makes me feel more like a proper author.
Even though I know the person I chose is more used to working on business documents, I have every confidence that she will pick up all the typos and poor grammar in my novel. And, the bonus part? I don’t have to read it again and find another dozen things wrong.
A book is never finished. But, having a deadline, giving it to someone else, that marks an ending.
I used to find the same with my paintings. Often they were better if I worked to a tight deadline, because I didn’t over-think or over-work them. In the end, my paintings became too bland, too safe, as I worried about giving them a professional finish. I think the same could happen with a novel. I merrily hacked out sections of Baby Blues, to both reduce the word count and resolve point of view issues.
Once you start hacking, though, it’s hard to stop. There were at least two chapters I thought about pulling but kept in, lest the story become too bare. Has the manuscript suffered from losing 7000 of mostly internal thought? Probably not, although possibly some of the depth of understanding about character motivation may have gone. Unlikely.
There’s an acroynm, a phrase, in editing. RUE. Resist the Urge to Explain. Trust your readers get it, without hammering it home with a mallet. The first time I edited BBWS, I wrote RUE all over the manuscript. It’s easy to want to make sure your readers know what you and your characters really mean.
I think that’s why so many scenes ended up with me presenting the internal thoughts of both protagonists (and I can also see how confusing that can get).
I really hope Baby Blues does well, but for now it’s out of my hands. Time to get back to Claire, back to the children, back to Wimbledon and walking the dog. What would I really like to do right now (it’s 5pm)?
Go back to bed!
Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:
Claire strode down the corridor, hoping the surge of anger didn’t fade before she reached her room. In her head, she replayed Michael’s words, and pushed all thoughts of Kim aside. Time enough to worry about her friend when she had her things and was safely away from the wedding. She had no idea where she would go, but that, too, could wait.
As she stalked past guests, she caught occasional glimpses of their faces. Some merely looked shocked to see her striding past like the grim reaper. Others glared and made noises as if to berate her. She shook them off like pesky flies.
At last the bedroom door was in front of her. She hoped, for a moment, that Michael had been bluffing and had re-joined the party. It would be a relief to collect her things and leave, with no more words spoken. Then his voice echoed in her mind, as he called her childish. His smug, arrogant voice, as he’d explained how he intended to brow-beat her into submission.
Claire flung open the door and had the satisfaction of seeing Michael jump. Before he could gather himself, she swept in and began collecting her things together. Hot words filled her mouth, but she knew the shaking in her limbs would betray her if she spoke. If she could gather everything up before Michael had a chance to open his mouth, he could hurl whatever accusations he liked at her retreating back.
It was a vain hope.
“What are you doing?”
“I can see that.” He leant back against the headboard. “I mean, where are you going? It’s nearly midnight. We’re miles from anywhere. You can’t leave.”
Michael sat up, narrowly missing head-butting the top bunk. He swung his feet to the floor and glared up at her.
“Claire, you’re being childish. Go and find Kim, apologise. We’ll sleep on it and everything will seem a hundred times better in the morning.”
“Apologise? I have nothing to be sorry for. It was you who blurted her secret out to the whole party.”
“And who told me that secret in the first place?” He raised an eyebrow at her, and she itched to slap him.
“I only said she wanted a baby. You put it together in your mind, because you’re obsessed. Honestly, Michael, what is it with you? I didn’t think men had a biological clock?”
She looked over at him, on her way to the bathroom to get her things, and saw something in his expression, a vulnerability, that made her hesitate. There was a reason behind his desire to be a dad. For a moment she wanted to know what it was. Then his face shifted and resumed the smug expression he had worn since the party. Resuming her journey to the en-suite, she spoke over her shoulder.
“I will apologise to Kim when she’s had a chance to calm down. I won’t encroach on her special day any further. Walking back into the bedroom, she stood facing him, hands on hips.
“As for staying here tonight, I don’t think that’s appropriate, do you? I shall find a motel. Make yourself scarce tomorrow. You are not welcome, and I do not want to see you here when I return.” She stuffed the last of her things into her bag, enjoying the stunned silence.
Soon everything was packed, and it seemed she would escape without any more words from Michael. As she reached the door, he spoke.
“You’ve changed, Claire. You’ve grown hard. You never used to be this confrontational.”
She turned and smiled. “Well, more fool me. I haven’t grown hard, Michael, I’ve grown up. You should try it some time.”
With that she wrenched open the door and stormed down the corridor.
You’re an artist too! Wow we have so much to talk about! I have a page on my blog where I post some photos of the paintings I’ve done. Do you know Lillian at It’s A Dome Life? She’s a fantastic artist as well and sends out newsletters with “how-tos” on some really cool art projects!
Congratulations on “finishing” the book – I look forward to reading it!!
Thank you! I don’t get much chance to do art anymore, as I paint large acrylic abstracts and it doesn’t really go with having two small children in the house (as I’m sure you know!) Writing makes far less mess and is easier (just) to put down when the kids wake up or need me…
Will definitely check out your art and It’s a Dome Life, both sound fab! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
LOL. I understand the go back to bed wish! It is satisfying to pass a book off to an editor, and know someone else can suggest what you need to fix.
I find I do the sledge hammer thing too, but it’s mostly for me, so I know what I’m doing… then at the end I subtleise it all by taking the aroogah, arooogah, here’s what’s happening bits out.
So yeh, you’re not alone.
Hehe love the arroogah arroogah (and loving that it’s a word in spellcheck!) analogy. I might start writing that all over my drafts instead of RUE. I read somewhere that a first draft is telling the story to yourself, and then later drafts are where you rewrite it for an audience…
That’s a very good way of putting it and pretty much exactly what I do. Not consciously set out to do, of course but just do do… if you see what I mean! Aargh.
It’s so hard to cut out bits that are iffy! I’ve cut out what feels like whole books from my current WIP and now I find myself pasting some of the sections back in. Oh well – maybe a deadline would be good for me too!
I’ve heard that, when you start reverting your editing to the way it was before, you’re novel is probably done!