Last week, I posted that “I’m currently doing my very last read-through of the edited Daughter of Blood manuscript before it goes to production.” And production, as I also mentioned, will involve both copy editing and then a further proof-reading round.
Recently, I also received an email from a friend and fellow writer who had just completed the second draft of a novel and was waiting for feedback from beta readers. What she wrote was:
“…but I’m having trouble motivating myself for ANOTHER set of edits! I don’t know how you do it — to produce three (and I assume the fourth will be no different) novels that are so finely honed. It speaks to a depth of pure endurance.”
To which I first thought, “thank you” for that “finely honed.”
But secondly, just “yes” — because I believe writing is an endurance event. When you embark on that ‘journey of considerably more than a thousand words’ you do have to be prepared for the long haul — including being willing to “write and throw away” until you get the story you’re trying to tell something close to right.
That’s not to say that sometimes I don’t ever get it right the first time, but I do find those occasions are rare. Nor am I alone. American writer William Gass is famous for having claimed to work “not by writing, but rewriting”, while Dylan Thomas was of the view that: “Almost any poem is fifty to a hundred revisions — and that’s after it’s well along.”
And the copyediting and proofing still come after the writer’s work of creation is done. So yes, “pure endurance” indeed, but so worth it when you finally reach “the end.”
However, I also think author David Farland has considerable wisdom to offer on when to stop polishing a manuscript — because it’s equally important to know when that time has come.