Yesterday, I began editing my latest novel. I printed the whole novel up and sat down with a ream of paper. I was going to begin by dealing with all the notations in the novel. When I’m drafting, I don’t want to get caught up in anything that will slow down the pace of the writing. So, I leave myself notes like: find a name for this character, add a beat, figure out where item/character X is, and fix—this is horrible.
But I decided that it might be a good idea to at least read the first couple of chapters since it’s been three and one half months since I last looked at the chapters. I told myself that I’d just read through it. No editing. So I curled up on the couch and began reading. I didn’t get far.
I read the first sentence. I stopped. I read the sentence again. I swallowed. It was the worst sentence I’ve ever read. Truly horrible. As in someone must have inserted this sentence into my manuscript as a joke horrible. (And my kids often do that. They’ll crack my passwords and randomly insert sentences.) But I couldn’t blame this on them. Their insertions are more transparent—Buy Jacob a car. Raise Matthew’s allowance.
In any case, I couldn’t let the bad sentence pass. I picked up my pen and rewrote the sentence over and over. I think the only thing left from the original sentence were a couple of “the”s and an “a” or two. And once I got started…well, the red pen is a hard thing to put down. (When I was in college, the rumor was the longer you could keep the professor from picking up a red pen, the better your grade. It was actually true. We got docked a letter grade for every spelling/grammar error.)
By the end of my writing period, I’d edited two chapters. But, sadly, I didn’t come across any pleas for new cars, money, steak dinners, or vague threats about what would happen if I put onions on homemade pizza again.
I wonder what the next few chapters will bring…