Monday, January 6, 2014

I Don't Envy Jane Austen

I have begun the  editing rewrite* process on my latest manuscript. If I'm honest, I much prefer this stage to the rough draft writing.

Shaping the world for the first time, growing characters who are three-dimensional, complex, imperfect and yet heroic, conjuring the best scene and the best point of view to propel the's pretty exhausting actually. Not torturous, I do take pleasure in it. But its the same pleasure you get from running a 10k. The kind that requires music to ease the way and caffeine. Lots of caffeine.

But when I can look back at a completed rough draft, I have something to work with. I get caught up for hours reading a scene and wondering if the emotion is deep enough, clear. If there's room for better words or symbolism or greater tension. If that scene is in the right place or if it should be relocated for maximum impact.

Yes, I know how it sounds, but I really do enjoy it. It's kind of like visiting friends you've not seen in a while and catching up, only you get to rewrite their past if you're not satisfied.

Which is why I'm so grateful for Word. I am not a throw-up-genius-on-the-page kind of writer. I'm not sure any of us are. But I will rewrite sentences, move them through paragraphs, and today I split a scene in half and punted a good bit of it to mid-manuscript.

Back in Jane Austen's day this would mean pages of crossing out words prose and dipping quill in ink on a fresh sheet, or making those little carrots to insert words. Mostly crossing out though, I imagine.  But for me, it means save a copy of the first version, then cut, paste, delete, insert, and then cut some more to my heart's content.

If I'd lived back in the typewriter days, or even the archaic fountain pen days, I'd still be a writer. I'd just probably restrict myself to short stories, greeting cards, and one massive, unedited Master Work.

So, I'm grateful for Bill Gates, for all the computer folks who coded Microsoft products and send me the debugging updates, for Steve Jobs too
, since I have an Apple, for the auto save feature, and that I don't live in Austenian times. For a lot of reasons, hygienic and literary.

*edit implies a blip of red pen that one must address, including the odd mispelled or misused word, and minor points of confusion. This is not what I do. My overhaul is the story equivalent of extensive plastic surgery. Like the kind a mob boss would get before going on the lam.

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