Sunday, May 1, 2011

SEW Sunday: Editing As Death and Rebirth

So, I've come to the conclusion that one of the main reasons I kind of mentally, emotionally, and in all other ways shut down on trying to find a literary agent in February was because I didn't want to do something that I knew (in the back of my mind) really needed to be done.  I fought against it for a while, then just decided I would sweep it under the rug and not think about it. 

Last week, I mentioned that I reread my first book and LOVED it, but I knew there needed to be one DRASTIC change.  That change has been made, which was hard for me, but it wasn't as hard as I thought.

I killed my prologue.

It's a YA fantasy, this book.  For the past DECADE that I've been working on it, it has always had a prologue.  I've always imagined it with a prologue.  The prologue was an integral part, not only of the story, but also of my image of what my introduction to the realm of being published author would look like.  I wanted the first thing people read by A. R. Campbell to be THAT prologue.  The first two words of that prologue were the first two words I wanted for my book...sigh...

But people, particularly agents, seem to not like prologues anymore.  I read more than one anti-prologue blog from agents I respect.  I'd read other agent interviews where other agents I respect discussed their hatred of prologues.  Agents know (at least a lot better than most people) what readers and publishers like.  Apparently, readers and publishers don't like prologues, either.  And I could see how I could easily incorporate my prologue into my story.  It wasn't that I didn't want to do the actual work (although, let's face it, I hate work).  My problem was that I didn't want to kill my prologue...because I loved it.

So it took me three months of pouting to finally get to the point where I was ready.  Friday, I had a day off.  I went out for a run.  I did some shopping.  I did some cleaning.  I delayed and delayed the inevitable.  Then I finally sat down at my computer and did the necessary editing, the necessary changes.

And I deleted the first three pages of my book.  The pages with the prologue.

I wish I hadn't pouted for so long, because as it turns out, I was able to reproduce much of the prologue, verbatim, within the structure of the story.  The prologue died, yes, but it was reborn into something that actually made more sense within the plot.  I had to tweak a few things.  There are still some things I will have to check and double-check (editing is hard, yo).  But, for the most part, it's done.  And my book is better for it.

The prologue is dead.  I mourn it, but all is not lost.

Okay, so that sounded REALLY dramatic and cheesy, but what do you expect?  I'm a writer....

As for writing, I'm still working on my current project.  I still don't like it, but I think I've made a small breakthrough in what I want to do with it all.  Some of my test readers are encouraging me to continue, so I'm trying to appease them, but I have to admit I'm really tempted to just shut the project down for a while and concentrate on the querying and editing aspects of my writing.

I still have a lot to do before I'm ready to start sending queries again.  I need to do some more agent research.  I need to perfect a synopsis.  I need to write and edit some outlines.  I also need to do some minor edits to the actual story.

I also want to start seriously working on a musical project--a collection of songs.  I'm not sure how well that's going to work, but I think it's worth a shot right now.

And then there's another rough draft of a project that I want to eventually try to sell.  It needs serious editing, and now I think I've distanced myself from it enough to be ready for that editing. 

Honestly, I hate hate hate editing.  It makes me see what isn't good about what I've done and forces me to destroy my previous work, some of which took me a LONG time to develop.  I've made an investment in these things that I once thought were amazing, only to find that they often don't even pass the level of mediocrity.  So I have to destroy what I once built, only to try to build it up better the second time.  Then the third time.  Then the fourth time.  As long as it takes...

Being a writer has given me some small glimpses into what it must be like to be God.  Only I'm not as patient as He is.  How many times has He had to tear us down so that He could rebuild us?  Only it's not His fault we're imperfect...we're the ones who mess up our own lives...because we try to be what we can't be.  We try to be Him.

I can't be God.  I can just be a writer, and editing forces me to realize that I'm just not as brilliant as I sometimes imagine myself to be.  As discouraging as all that sounds, I have to say that I really have been encouraged this week.  I've been reminded about how much I really do love my life and the opportunities God has given me.  I know that He's in control, so I really don't have anything to fear. 

There's still a lot of work to be done, but I've got to be honest--getting rid of my prologue was a HUGE step in this journey towards getting published.  It's gotten me back on track to do the things that I know I still need to do.  I'm not there yet, but I know where I want to go.

Now I just have to do the work it will take me to get there. 

Have I mentioned that I'm really glad I'm not God.  I mean, seriously.  I would have forgotten to make gravity, and then where would we all be?  But He's the Author AND the Perfecter.  When I really thing about it, I have nothing to fear.

...hee hee.  Bion is going to be working overtime.


  1. Yay! I'm so glad editing is coming along on that fantastic book of yours. While I hope you keep up with the other book you're currently battling - er - writing, it sounds like you're picking up on querying again soon. Or is it querieing? Queryyinggg? Queha;ldkrying? Oi.

  2. You were right the first time. Querying. :-D