I'm editing for my life. 300 pages left. Looks like I'll have to slip my deadline by a few days. In the professional arts, nothing is worse than that.
In my life as a visual artist, deadlines are sacred and immutable. I grew up in an art-centered household, so my entire life the deadline has been of similar potency to the Ten Commandments. This deadline is self-imposed -- I think my editor is chuffed to have a writer that cares about these things at all -- but it's still a deadline, and it has a big impact on the velocity of the book project going forward. If I'm not putting my back into it, why should they do so?
This is a genuine edit, by the way. The first round of changes was a second draft, with fairly extensive chunks of rewriting. This time the revisions are mostly tightening what's already written: a turn of phrase here, an expository line there.
But it's slow going, because another task before me is to try to cut this beast down by 50 pages, if I can. Books aren't cheap to produce, and this thing is an epic about the end of the world, weighing in at over 170,000 words.
Word count is one of those things writers like to torture themselves with. Screenplays aren't measured in words, but in pages, so screenwriters torture themselves about page counts, but otherwise it's the same for every branch of the scrivening arts. Consensus is that a first novel had damn well be shorter than 80,000 words. Nobody will even look at a story longer than 100,000 words, which makes for a book around 480 pages in length.
So my book is going to be almost 800 pages long. That's a big, expensive book to produce, and a hell of an investment for a publisher to make on a first novel by a largely unknown writer. I'm trying to whittle it down -- 700 pages is still a massive novel. But as these things go, it's not getting significantly shorter, no matter how much material I chop out. This is the genius of careful outlining: you only write what you need to tell the story.
It seems I needed rather a lot, in this case.
So onward, with one deadline blown!
3 weeks ago