Red-lines and Edits

Writing is my passion, and I’m looking to make it my profession. To that end, I now have an editor in the UK who is helping me shape my first novel. It’s a hard process. I wrote the first draft in 8 weeks, after I got back from my Camino. When I was in the thick of writing, it was as if the characters spoke through me. There were days it felt like I was just taking dictation. And I’ve spend the last year editing and polishing and, well, stalling. It’s OK to say it, I know myself.

At first, I thought I would have a bunch of friends read it. I pretty much made the offer to anyone willing to put in the time to give me feedback. But then I realized it wasn’t so easy. Writing a book is like having a baby. And giving that baby over to someone who will tell you that parts of your baby are ugly? Well, that requires a lot of trust. You certainly learn the friends who you really trust to hand over your manuscript, and who you don’t.

But more than that, I’ve always been a person who was brutally honest. I am who I am and I’ve never tried to hide that. And sometimes that makes other people uncomfortable. Because most people are not this way. And that’s fine too. But you’ll rarely wonder what I’m thinking, and I’m well aware there are upsides and downsides to this.

And when you write a book – if you write from the heart – it gives the reader insight into even deeper parts of you that you might not normally show, no matter how much of an ‘open book’ you usually are (excuse the pun). It cracks open your heart and your brain, and lets people who know you see inside. More than they ever did before. And also, strangers who have no context or even a small appreciation for your origin story. This is probably the hardest part for me. How do you publish your writing, tell the story, and protect your own heart from those who might break it?

But I’m going through that process now. The ‘This doesn’t make sense’ and ‘I’m not sure what you’re going for here’ and the ‘I would cut this section out entirely – it doesn’t move the story along’, when I think it’s a pivotal part of the arc. The red lines. The slashing and burning. I’m welcoming it from a pro.

This next phase in my writing process, I’m trying to approach like it’s a whole new story. Sure, I know the arc and what I want the ending to be, but I have no idea how I’ll get from here to there. Sharon, my editor, will have to lead me through it. Like my book, this path will reveal itself over time. And hopefully, in the end, the hero of my own story won’t have a broken heart.

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