Writing a novel in the piecemeal way that I do over six plus months really elongates the entire creation process. While I know that many writers have day jobs and have limited time to write every day, I have to imagine that established writers like Wally Lamb, Stephen King, and others move through the process much more quickly than the rest of us. Stephen King has to do so since he’s so prolific. If my writing were brought to life, it’d be like that stop-motion animation without the stops edited out.
I just finished doing the first round of edits of “Origins,” my first science fiction novel. For me, it is a Goliath of a novel at over 100,000 words and eight months in the making. It took me a month to finish the first round of edits, and now, I’ll let it sit and settle for a while before I make any attempt at second-round edits. I’ve sent it out to my beta readers to get their feedback, and I guarantee they’ll find inconsistencies and questionable plot movements because after staring at this project for eight months I know I have missed a few things. That’s the life of a writer – you become so engrossed in a story that you can’t see what’s in front of you.
This isn’t the end of the story, so to speak. It’s just the end of the beginning. Writing the story only starts the process of creating a finished product. The blood, sweat, and tears come in the editing and re-editing. The importance of editing cannot be overstated. I once worked with an excellent editor on several articles I had written for a trade magazine, and she performed miracles on my best efforts. I may have given the articles my own special shine, but she made them sparkle. I only wish she were available to edit my books. I need someone like her to help me get to the finish line of publication.
The problem is that finding a great editor is more art than science. It’s not a matter of looking up names online and picking one. Writing is an intimate experience, and an editor is more than a grammar checker, she is someone who understands the writer and can help him write the best story he can write. When I find an editor, it will be a serious relationship – one that will be critical for my success as a writer. As such, I’ve had several conversations with potential editors. I keep looking for that spark that will let me know I’ve found the right person to entrust with my stories. The next phase of the writing process is the most arduous, and I can’t just take the journey with anyone. For now, I’ll keep on writing, but I know getting to the end of the beginning is not enough.