Back to editing today.
I find myself frustrated again. Not with commas and spacings and spellings–for the most part I’m just slapping “Accept Changes” on yet another correction of my ability to mangle an innocent spelling.
No, I find myself frustrated by how much I didn’t do. There are all these characters, and I read through and see all this potential that I should have done something with, and didn’t. Whether I was lazy, or exhausted, or more likely, simply not skilled enough, or maybe I just hit 400 pages and went “Okay, enough already, let’s not get Jordanesque.” There’s so MUCH in a book. It’s like juggling, and if you suddenly turn one of the balls into a lead weight, you risk dropping all of ’em. There’s one character who I rather like, a tough, paranoid woman who has long since given in to despair, but keeps going out of stubborness and it just not occurring to her to give up. In a lot of ways, she’s the real hero hero in the book–the protagonist is sort of on the periphery of this great epic battle and isn’t the important one. Even when the protagonist’s undergoing whatever godawful torments, the bad guys are wishing aloud that they’d managed to get the other one, who would’ve been a lot better for this sort of thing.
And I read what I’ve done with this character, and I think “God! Does any of that come through? Is she just a flat minor figure on the page, or can people see this bleak heroism that I had in my head?”
Maybe you write the next book to try and snare the characters who got away from you in this one. I don’t know.
But it’s not without charm. There’s a grim little moment in the story that, quite perversely, gives me a warm fuzzy feeling, because in the very first editing ever done on it, my friend who did the very first pass of edits, wrote “Ouch! Harsh!” in the margin after the last line. Praise from him was about as common as duck nipples, so ironically, whenever I read this bleak, tragic little section of dialogue, I feel a warm glow.
And now, back to putting out commafires…
Edit: Aww, and my current editor liked another line. It’s amazing how warming, in the midst of a slog, a smiley face can be…