So the year of the edit draws to a close. I feel like I’ve been three rounds with this story and been KO’d each time.
This is how you learn your opponent, no? Their head tilt before a low kick. The way they favour their left leg. The feint before a jab. The weaknesses. The tells that reveal who they are, who they really want to be.
I see you, story, so much better than I ever would have thought at the end of that stream of consciousness draft that poured out of me too fast to breathe. I see your feints, your fumbles, fancy footwork meant to dazzle but really distracting attention away from that unprotected flank.
And I also see those moments when the words peel themselves back up off the page and make magic, all on their own.
So, yeah. Editing.
It’s been… strange. I put the book away for a few months after finishing the second draft in August, filled with this grand idea that I’d pound out a quick first draft of something else. First drafts are not usually a problem for me, remember? The opposite, in fact. But this time…
Ahem. Who are these strangers and what the hell do they want? Normally, I love figuring all this out but now, for the first time I was aware—stub your toe in the dark type of shocking, total, instant knowledge that your inner map does not overlay the real world accurately—of how much longer and wider the road is.
How dirty my opponent is prepared to fight.
Because for the first time, I couldn’t do it. For the first time, I sat down to write and couldn’t simply dip the battered tin cup into the well of the subconscious, haul up wriggling words that couldn’t wait to fling themselves on the page.
Not writer’s block, though. No. Plenty of ideas, no problem there. More like this book, this goddamn book that I still love so much, this slippery just-one-more-draft-where-I-show-you-the-tricks-up-my-sleeve book. It’s gone and got itself more. More depth. More layers. More nuanced, conflicted characters. More painful choices for them to make. So much bigger than it was at the end of the first draft that my brain doesn’t have room for a new story at the moment.
And how strange it felt to sit down to do something, to want to do something, and realise that your brain won’t cooperate. Yeah, I could have forced it, but not the best choice. That would have been more like scurrying back to shore after finally battling out past the breakers.
Plus, I trust my subconscious when I write my books, so I supposed I should trust it when it tells me it still needs the brain-space for this holy-hell-ain’t-you-done-yet book. That working on something else would mean letting go of some of the pressure building, gelling, fermenting for this final draft.
The book is stronger, but somehow, to my utter surprise, so am I.
Round 4, here I come.
See you on the flip side.