Friday, August 6, 2010

Gates of Hell

I finished my first draft of the Cozy on Wednesday night, which makes me happy, as it gives me PLENTY of editing time, which I know it needs... there are definitely some weak spots and it will need a nice organized rewrite... but MAN... Editing is SO PAINFUL! It is best to go in with eyes wide open though, so I present to you, the Nine Rings of Editing Hell:

First Ring: Limbo

The vanity ring—or limbo... you can even pretend you are NOT yet editing... this is the cleaning up that needs to be done so you don't humiliate yourself when you send it to your critique partners... it is basic typos, grammar, large gaping wound clean up—the kind of corrections that hurt you not at all—there is little pain involved. It is superficial and frankly pointless, as everything will need to be cleaned again. And again. And again. But we have some modicum of self respect, and don't want our fellow writer's to realize the bonehead typing that occurs when the kids are fighting and the husband is nagging. The punishment at this level is in being able to see both how sweet success would BE, and how FAR we have to go to get there.

Second Ring: Lust

This is where you hope your hotter than hot critique partners are the answer for everything—that a wave of their wand will provide the approval you need and it is all enjoyment from here. Sadly, if they are good critique partners (and they are, or you wouldn't have chosen them) they are going to point out all your flaws and will NOT tell you how to fix them, but just what needs fixing. This will send you into a spiral of depression.

Third Ring: Gluttonous

This is where you indulge in the fantasy of how satisfying this book might be, if only you could put in all the missing parts... sadly, it is more about over-indulgence—adding content on a whim, because you just want to be sated, but nothing seems to do the trick.... Oh, poor empty soul...

Fourth Ring: Avaricious and Prodigal

At this point you begin to worry about what will be most impressive. You pull out all your books on symbolism, story structure... read a few passages in Anna Karenina, hoping it will rub off. You are seeing some light, and it is a shiny, nobel prize kind of light. You are SURE you are all that, or could be, with just the right turn of phrase.

Fifth Ring: Wrathful and Sullen

You decide what is necessary is a lot of angry torturing of your characters—they don't suffer enough and it is THEIR fault your book is not good. You feel compelled to add in some torture scenes, infidelity. More tension? I'LL GIVE YOU TENSION!

Sixth Ring: Heretical

You realize it is CRAP. YOU are crap! Your book is a false idol and you've given it power it should never have. It is time to exorcize the beast—just put it out of its misery. You contemplate the shredder.

Seventh Ring: Violent

Say it with me: KILL YOUR DARLINGS! It is time to just cut out the crap and slash up the bad blood. There is a lot of this that just needs to GO and you need to be ruthless!

Eighth Ring: Fraudulent

You briefly contemplate rewording everything to mock the style of the latest best seller. There was a time you would have mocked nineteenth century greats, but everybody knows none of them could sell a book in this day and age.

Ninth Ring: Treachery

This is where your novel jumps up and b*tchslaps you and says “HA! Joke's on YOU, sucker!” Fortunately, if you can wrestle your novel to the ground at this point, chances are high that you can identify the treacherous pieces.

So I am ready for my descent... if by ready, I mean, have purchased a back up half gallon of rum. I've put my golden snitch on a string, to keep reminding me I can soar, if I just don't get discouraged. I've lined up my peeps, for the back-up function I desperately need them to perform (thank you ladies—ALL of you—you are superstars!) And I will make it out the other side... (never mind that ANOTHER editing project will follow)

Fantabulous Contest

Normally I tweet or FB share these, but skip the blog part—not normally big on contests, but this one has some loot I really want, so... Lola Sharp, who is a kindred spirit (I suspect she is actually a Tart) is giving away some stuff... so go check it out, and if you decide to follow her (which you should) tell her I sent you... She just went to Maine, so she has some GROOVY Stephen King-y stuff (including 'On Writing') and a magnet that looks like Pennywise *shivers *


Ted Cross said...

I have been flayed alive in these rings of hell for the past year and a half since finishing my first draft, and I don't feel like I will ever be satisfied. I now think that writing the book is by far the easier part.

M.J. Nicholls said...

Excellent! In agreement. When I review work, I always try to offer little ideas or solutions, as I know the feeling of being told "this is wrong, please fix it". You stare at your horrible MS and cry HOW!!??

Ella said...

Good luck with your decent; I think I could apply these to other aspects of my life! I think you are in the thick of it, get through this painful, thorny part and you feel the wind beneath your wings,again. It sounds like ripping band aids off, too soon! I know YOU can do it~xXx

Will Burke said...

After the fire, after the purging, after the vanquishing of all foes, you will emerge, triumphant, our naked queen!

Old Kitty said...

Such a lot of rings!!!! All sound ever so painful to wear! :-)

Good luck with your editing - there really is no easy way to do such a necessary thing is there?!?!

No pain no gain as "they" say! (I personally don't agree but then procrastination is my middle name!).


Take care

Hart Johnson said...

Ted, that is exactly why I have 7 books written and NONE ready for publication.

Mark, I actually do a fair amount of that too, and some of my readers do, but I find I usually tweak the suggestions quite a lot--still, they are helpful.

Ellie-The high DOES come back... though the query process will know the umph clean out from under you and then some...

Will--From your fingertips! Thank you!

OK--No easy way at all--at least not while keeping it 'me'--And having suffered, I have to imagine the victory will be sweeter... if only I'd GET THERE!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

This all sounds very, very familiar!

I think I've been sullen for a while now...:)

Congratulations on finishing your first draft!

Jan Morrison said...

Oh dear! I love Dante. I'm a bit of a Dante scholar in my mind. The thing about the rings is that they are the same going down as going up. It is like looking at the reverse cast of a three dimensional object. After a moment you see it as a positive. So... I love revision for the reasons you seem to loathe it. Start at the bottom ring and work up. Forget about others input until you are fully finished your second draft (if possible) and keep saying your mantra over and over. Mine is 'I chose this life and will live it joyfully.' You may borrow all of it or part of it but it must include 'I chose this' OK. Love ya darling - see you at middle ring. hmmm...rings of rings! Jan Morrison

Hart Johnson said...

Elizabeth--Sorry the sullens are sticking!!! And thank you!

Jan-but I only chose the writing part and the rich and famous part *shifty* Seriously though. I love your perspective. I think it helps. And you are probably right about working through these backward... makes a lot of sense, actually...

Erica Mitchell said...

Haha, wrathful and sullen is me. I like to place the blame on my characters and just skip the other rings of hell. ;) Good luck with the edits, and yeah the backwards thing mentioned does work. You catch a lot! Have a great weekend :D

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I can identify with those rings.

Talli Roland said...

I love LOVE this! I've just sent off my last round of edits to my editor and I was firmly in the 'treachery' phase. I have really wanted to sack my MS, light it on fire and run away screaming. Or drink.

Hart Johnson said...

Erica--looks like the sullens are going around! teehee. Yeah... will have to work at the backward... though if I start out hating it, I may have trouble motivating the rest.

Alex-I think we all can!

Talli--NO! Don't light it on fire! I confess to resorting to drinking myself though...

lisahgolden said...

I'm just beginning my descent. I've taken this week off to revel? Or more likely to cower while ironing meditatively. It's an affliction, I know.

Good luck in that contest! If I can't have that magnet with which to freak out my children, then you should have it.

Helena said...

It's almost embarrassing how personal writing can be. And as for being cruel to characters -- I've actually teared up while writing about the demise of a good guy. (Now that's embarrassing! He ain't real! It's fiction! Now edit this sucker!). Bad guys are something else.

Hart Johnson said...

Lisa- resorting to ironing sounds desperate to me! *gigglesnorts about Pennywise magnet* My daughter is so easily freaked. I want to taunt her with is *is evil*

Helena-I cried with my last chapter of my Cozy and thought *it was good* *snicker* Definitely know I'm onto something if I am that deep in the head.

Unknown said...

Hey Hart, my naked Tart blogger friend (at least I like to think so) LOL - Anyway, first CONGRATS ON FINISHING YOUR DRAFT!!!! YAY!!! YAY!!! YAY!!! Now, I'll say it. I TOTALLY hate the sixth ring & I usually take it out on myself and EvERYONE around me. Everyone. The mailman. The lady at Target, even my best friends. When you hit that sixth ring - if you hit it, let me know - well I'm sure you have plenty of people to help you through. LOL. Anyway, YAY again!!! I'm sure it's totally awesome. =D

Deb and Barbara said...

Ha! Thanks, Hart. Just got my ms back from an editor and I think my brain twisted through each ring before I even let 24 hours go by.

Now I must actually live it *sigh*

Congrats on finishing your ms!! And enjoy your vacay, young lady...