edit

Power, responsibility and my manuscript

Ah...the doldrums of January. After the sparkling, frantic days of November and December, January is downright dull. How do I add a bit of excitement to this month? By reading the developmental editing analysis from my writing coach, of course. 

It took me five days to work up the nerve to read the eight pages of feedback. So on a dreary cold day, I gave my four-year-old a tablet to watch Youtube videos of jets and diggers, poured a glass of Reisling and got comfortable on the couch. 

It wasn't too bad. The first thought I had after I read it was "Whew, she didn't pan my writing." This was immediately followed by the thought "There is way more editing work than I want to do." 

I took a few days to think about what I wanted to do. I realized I had three choices: keep the structure and complete the suggested edits; change the structure of the manuscript and complete only the edits that pertained to that; and quit.

While mulling my options it suddenly hit me. I have total control over the direction that my manuscript could take. Now I know that sounds like a crazy thing to say because duh, I wrote it. It is my creation. But I didn't really 'get' the power that came with that control. I am master of its destiny. 

Of course, the flip side of this control and power is that if I used it incorrectly, if I made a bad decision regarding the direction of my manuscript, I was sending it down the wrong path. Whoa. I am a novice writer. I am feeling my way along this process. How can I make this decision? What criteria do I use? 

What I ultimately used to guide my decision was my own interest in completing the work. If I choose to keep it as is I dreaded doing the revision. Like I had zippo interest in continuing on. It was overwhelming and would take out the joy I found in writing. However, if I choose to strip out a certain element and then work the revision, I was excited about that challenge. Also, I had made such an investment, with my time and financially, that I really didn't want to shelve this project. 

I emailed my coach with my thoughts on her analysis (which was spot on and easy to understand) and told her what I was considering doing. She encouraged me to pursue that direction. So that is what I've been working on, how I'm filling the long middle days of winter. 

I also asked my coach for any last words of advice before I dived back in. She said, "Writing is only the first step; rewriting is where you discover your story." (These are words from her late mentor Arnold Madison.)