Bricks and edits and gratuitous shit, oh my.

When I last posted I was recovering from two conferences and getting ready to jump back into the novel. The day after that I printed out all 351 pages of USLS. This was a heavy brick of a thing to carry around. It really should have felt lighter; it’s one of the shortest novels I’ve written.

So I put away the computer and began editing…and editing…and editing… It was just me and the red pen and the paper printout. There’s some strange kind of satisfaction that I get from seeing red pen against my words, crossing out bad sentences, writing in new experimental things, leaving myself notes. Nothing else feels this productive.

And then yesterday morning I finished the paper edits!! I’d been bracing myself for an awful read, but it turned out a lot better than expected. Getting the time away from the project definitely allowed me to see the good things, and refreshed me enough that I could pin down the major problems to fix.

That was 15 intense days of editing. I tried to push myself to go slower — I wanted to be thorough. In the past I’d often circle paragraphs and make a note saying, “this sucks, make it better.” This time around I tried to minimize that — when something was weak I forced myself to give it a second try in the margins. As a result there are a lot of pages covered in red pen rewrites.

So today I started transferring all the edits from paper to screen. This is definitely my least favorite part of the process. It often feels mind-numbing — searching for the next bit of red on the page, finding the matching section on the computer, applying the change, lather, rinse, repeat. Occasionally there’s a note in there that I actually have to sit and think about. And that’s almost a different kind of frustration, because in these moments it somehow feels like the robotic and the careful-thinking parts of my brain are set in direct opposition to each other.

Last time I mentioned my new major goal was to try to finish a second solid draft of USLS by June 30th. I’m actually currently working on a smaller goal within that: to finish transferring these edits to the screen before I leave for vacation.

I basically only have a couple of weeks. Go go go.

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