I completed a rough draft of my second novel in May of this year. Remarkably, and quite beside the point, I finished a rough draft of my third novel only about 2 weeks later (woot!). I put aside all of that for a couple of months, but yesterday I finally sucked it up and unsheathed my proverbial red ink pen.
I don't really use red ink pens. They belong to teachers. If you haven't figured it out yet, I don't like being identified with teachers. :-D Rather, I went through all the old files that contained the 32 chapters of my second novel. And now I find myself faced with the daunting task of shortening those 32 chapters down to 30 (at the most--I'd like to go lower).
I'm also faced with the task of shortening each of those chapters to no more than seven pages (I'd prefer five or less). The good thing is, I've already managed to do this with the first five chapters (I had a day off yesterday). The bad thing is, I've only gotten started. I know for a fact that I'm going to have to cut out and rewrite several segments of the next three or four chapters. These were chapters I procrastinated with when I originally wrote them, mainly because I didn't know how to write them. And now I have to rewrite them.
Unless I am struck with some ingenius idea, I'm not sure what's going to happen. I've never liked editing, but I'm learning that it's a huge part of the writing process. Whether I learn to like it or not, I'm going to have to do it.
This is one of those times when I really start wondering how God puts up with all of us. He has never had one of those moments when He doesn't know how the story is supposed to go. He always knows. He had it all planned out before we were ever born. The thing is, He also knows that we're just not going to follow the story line He put before us. It's not that God isn't sovereign. I'm not saying that at all. In fact, I'm saying the opposite.
When I have to edit my story, it's usually because I'm flawed. When God has to edit our stories, it's not because He's flawed. It's because He made us in His image and breathed that spark of life into us that enables us to make our own choices. He made us well. He made us to be good, but we don't choose to remain that way. We choose to go a way He didn't plan for us. And so, God does get that red ink pen out. And He does edit our stories. He edits them all as they interact. When we mess up what He has for us, He is able to bring good from it. He's able to redeem us and bring Himself glory in the process. That red ink He uses is His very own blood. Grace weaves through everything.
As for me, I just have to keep being faithful to the work He's given. I trust that He's going to bring good from it, too. Just keep writing, just keep editing, just keep writing, editing, writing...