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  • [SWP: Behind the Book] On Editing and Its Relation to Perseveration of Thought
[SWP: Behind the Book] On Editing and Its Relation to Perseveration of Thought
Contributor
Written by
J. Dylan Yates
December 2014
Contributor
Written by
J. Dylan Yates
December 2014

It’s official. I have the dreaded writer’s block! More accurately, I have a swampland of tedious details and an accumulation of highly addictive stats to obsess over instead of attending to the work that remains uninspired and/or unfinished.

While I waited for my first novel to be published I wrote two other novels in another series, began research for a second novel in the first series, and developed the outline for a third.

Here’s the thing.

Every free moment I’ve not been trying to scrabble a living, I’ve been doing publicity and marketing for my novel since the day it was published. That’s it. That’s all, just that.

Okay, maybe not all. I’ve also been continuing the glut of invitational terror and shame this portion of my life has become by taping an audiobook with a series of engineers. But that’s all, besides the scrabbling. Oh, and the ridiculous class I took trying to develop the screenplay for my book. I now have a logline and a beatsheet for every scene in the movie version of my novel. The only thing missing is the dialogue . . . and the talent to actually write a compelling screenplay.

Next summer, the prequel to my published novel will develop flesh and bones. I’m planning a research trip. The prequel project is off the hook, for now.

The second novel series, with two unedited manuscripts, sits on my desk alternately winking and sneering. I think about it every day, all the time. I imagine the editing process will go smoothly. BETA readers will sing praises. There will be brilliance and novelty. It will publish with great success. There will dancing and flowers and clinking glasses and party hats.

Um, okay.

It’s not really a block. It’s a lack of blockage. Blockage would provide incentive. My problem is that I’ve lost enthusiasm for the next project. Not for the product. Just the process.

I know what lies ahead. Editing.

I’ve learned a thing or two. There will be much hurry and there will be more energy-wilting wait.

There will be intention assault, thought harassment, and the killing fields my prose will be murdered upon. I will be forced to be an accomplice. I will be forced to witness the withering and ultimate decay of things that have become dear to me as well as several things I’ll pretend to have cared for but have secretly lost interest in. I will mourn them despite my lack of affection. I will do this unconsciously as a kind of emotional barter for the bits I will later fight to save. This will go on for months followed by a round of proofing that will entail an exponentially quickened version of the hurry and wait game. After this game I will still have a manuscript that will be swarming with typos despite my sixteen rounds of uneducated, unprofessional self-proofing that will culminate with three rounds of final editing passes by a professional. This is the truly soul-crushing, joy-robbing fact that allows apathy to invade my writing practice.

Now I know there may be no error-proof books. I will never be so naive again as to believe in that particular unicorn—even if I clap very loudly. Nonetheless, knowing that my next novel will be filled with mistakes, despite the mind-numbing business of proofreading, fills me with horror. Does this make me neurotic or just a writer?

That audiobook I’ve been working on has taught me another thing or two as I’ve read my novel aloud to a mike wired to a headphone in a room filled with electronic equipment and a series of people behind a glass screen. The most important thing I’ve learned is that next time I write a novel I will read it out loud to someone before I publish it. The proof will be in the murky pudding I present for my listeners enjoyment and/or torture. It is in this way that I will learn to write what good readers appreciate.

I perseverate, therefore I am. 

 

J. Dylan Yates is the author of the award-winning debut novel, THE BELIEF IN Angels (She Writes Press, 2014). She’s currently editing her next novel series,  a romantic erotica trilogy. Research for the prequel to her first novel will continue during the summer of 2015. Something will be finished sometime soon.

You can purchase a copy of THE BELIEF IN Angels My Website http://www.jdylanyates.com or anywhere books are sold. If you enjoy the book, please post stars or reviews on your Blog, Amazon, Goodreads or Pinterest.  It truly helps authors sell more books to have books shared in this way. Also, it makes a writer feel quite good. Plus, it's good Karma.

 

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Comments
  • J. Dylan Yates

    Thank you SM Johnson. Love your analogy.

    I'm preparing for the chipping!

  • SM Johnson

    I always dread editing, and the once I start I get very enthusiastic about it. It's like picking up an ugly rock with a quartz vein - you have to chip away and polish before you get to hold the agate. Hang in there!