Editing and the surprise pen and shower.

Perhaps the recurring theme of this blog would be, I’m new to this.

It’s been about a year since I began ‘writing’ as a ‘writer’ and about 3 months since I published my first book. A year that was rife with error and missteps. I’m kind of amazed by what I didn’t know at the beginning and what I think I might know now. Of course I may be wrong. I often am.

With the story Bright, I made about 3 editing passes before I thought it was perfect. I passed it to my editor who declared it highly flawed and handed it back. I took a deep breath and gave the book about 4 more passes before handing it back and then a few more for good measure. I then passed it to a friend to read.

There’s a scene in Bright where Estelle is called into the Office to complete a questionnaire so that her future husband can be chosen. I describe the scene thusly:

The Inquiry Room, the first step in every appointment, was sparsely decorated and too cold. My guess is they kept it frigid, so we wouldn’t dawdle or fall asleep. There were four big comfortable chairs at desks with screens. Was the chair we chose part of the test? I chose the one farthest from the door. 
Once seated, my screen flashed a welcome message, “Hello, Estelle Wells, Welcome Back,” and up popped a short multiple choice test… 

Later, Estelle is called into the Office again, to fill out another questionnaire and the receptionist hands her a pen and a paper. Seriously, I had read this book at least ten times and hadn’t noticed. My editor hadn’t noticed (though in her defense there were a ton of other things she was noticing. I assume she would have eventually.) There was a pen where there shouldn’t have been.

It took new eyes to see.

In my new book Fly, I’m writing a fairy tale about a princess who flies and a Kingdom that is having some serious water issues. A young man named Hank lives in the valley and the water is gone. It’s been dammed and is held in tanks and the villagers are sick and leaving and when we meet Hank he  gives water to a friend in need. He’s a fine, upstanding man, kind, generous. Hot. So I read this book about 8 times. I declared it perfect and handed it to a friend to read and give me feedback.

She pointed out that to prepare to go to a party to meet the Princess and tell her about the water issues, Hank takes a shower. A shower. I hadn’t noticed.

It took new eyes.

I guess what I’m saying is learning new things is grand, and perfection is a worthy goal, but pick a friend and ask them to help with it all. And listen to their notes, they have new eyes.

Thank you Denine Dawson, Heather Hawkes, and Deborah Marcus.