Writing Update – Revision Complete

Since the beginning of August, I’ve been ‘head down’ editing The Forgotten Road.  I’ve chronicled my efforts here a few times, but haven’t updated as much as I hoped to, because frankly, every spare writing moment I had was sucked up by the editing process.  That process is now complete for this version.  I sent the manuscript to Fedex Office for printing last night.  I plan on picking it up tonight, and then ceremoniously dumping it into my wife’s lap for her to read.

What was a 91,400 word novel is now 78,200 words.  I ripped out large chunks of minutia, rewrote sections of passive voice, corrected point of view errors, removed hundreds of extra commas and reformatted the pages and the chapter headings.  I spliced about 6000 new words into the second storyline, and rewrote the very beginning of the first chapter.   In dropping the word count, I actually deleted about 19000 words.  That’s nearly a quarter of the last version of the manuscript.

So at this point, I’ll be handing it off to a few readers and looking for feedback.  I have one or two places in the novel that I am still not ecstatic about, but as I tried to fix them, I just made it worse.  I’ve got some room now in the word count to add more if the book needs it.  I was working on one of those sections last night, and got about a thousand words into a new chapter before I realized it wasn’t perfect and caused more problems than it solved.  I deleted it, and sent the book to the printer instead.

Once my readers are done with it, it will sit on my shelf until the end of November.  Then I’ll pick it back up, do the edits suggested by my readers, and another read through of my own.  In January, 29 months after I started this thing, I’ll start sending it out to agents and editors again.  Writing a novel, especially a first one, takes a long time, and I really wish I got paid by the hour for it.

In the meantime, I’ve got a few books to read – check my reading list if you don’t believe me – and then I’m going to dive back into the novel I was working on before I started this edit.  Ideally, I’ll be wrapping up the first version of  that one around the end of November, so it will dovetail nicely into my schedule for TFR.

Some might think that having a schedule for novel writing seems a little too much like work.  When I started this revision, I set a deadline of the end of September to complete it, and that deadline loomed over me like a guillotine.  Editing is not fun for me, and without a deadline, it could have lasted for months.  I squeezed a lot of extra writing sections into my days and nights instead of watching TV or playing video games.  Hopefully this pace is something I can continue as I work on the next book.  I don’t miss TV much.  Every once in a while I wish I had hours to play video games, but that time will come again I’m sure, as soon as my kids get the ‘bug’ and I have to ‘supervise’ their gaming time.

Oddly enough, after I sent the book to the printer last night, I didn’t have a big rush of endorphins, and I didn’t stand up from my chair and do a little happy dance.  Maybe that’s because I did that when I finished version one 20 months ago.  I’ve done 7 major versions since then.  The celebration gets a little smaller each time, because I know that until the dang thing is sold or retired, it is never truly done.

I hope to god that my next novel is in much better shape when I finish it.  7 edits is way too darn many.

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