Many wise things have been said about putting the same effort into the last part of a task as in the first 90 (or sometimes 99) percent. To which I can only say “Yeah. That.” No book is ever perfect, but the closer the writer comes, the better the reader’s experience.
Yet at some point, the writer must stop…stop writing, stop revising (at least for awhile) and send the book to its Editor, and at some point the Editor must stop…stop asking for more revision, more changes, and then the book goes out in the world as groomed at they both can make it, but both understanding that somewhere something will have been missed.
I am at that point. Three additional scenes have been inserted. First readers of amazing skill and willingness to work very fast in the holiday season have been over their assigned sections (and two have gone beyond their sections to give another set of eyes to the others.) I have worked flat out, as you know, for days and days and days. And it’s as done as it’s going to get.
Today’s work included: inserting the scenes written yesterday, writing the third scene, double-checking chapter numbers (um…two number twelves, and I have no idea how that happened. Yesterday the in-house first-reader found two number tens) and re-reading most of it for more nits and infelicities (this will continue until I fall over tonight, but it’s mostly clean now.)
Book III has a provisional title to carry to Editor, Failure of Vision. It is at present 855 manuscript pages, with a word count (according to Word) of 171,500. To compare, Oath is 170,400 (approx) and Kings is 173, 700. The mathematically inclined will see that if you divvy up words by the number of days in a year, all you’d have to do is write a mere 500 words/day and you’d be home free. Or so it seems, but writing is not mathematical. For instance, something over 10,000 words written for this book won’t be in it (will be in the next, or used as side-stories.) In addition, 500 words/day would get to 171,500 by Day 343…and you’d have fewer than 20 days in which to do full revision of the whole thing.
Which, if you’ve been reading this blog, you know is a difficult task. Because then you’re revising at the rate of almost 1o,000 words a day, and revision requires multiple passes…making it more than that.
Still…when it’s done, it’s done, and it’s a great feeling. I will now go outside for the first time since coming home from church early Christmas morning. Quit eating to stay awake for those 18-20 hour days. With any luck (stuff happens is the rule of life) when I hit “Send” on the email taking the book to NYC tomorrow, I won’t touch the keyboard again until late afternoon, if then.
Even though I’m tired, it’s hard to let go…I know there’s a typo or a word that could be changed or a punctuation mark that might be altered somewhere in the mass of text. I want it to be perfect. I want every phrase to be carved delicately, every paragraph to have its proper shape and effect, every page, every chapter…and I’ve done my best. Which is never quite good enough. And yet, like any birth, there comes a time to cut the cord and see if the child lives on its own. Vision seems to be breathing and waving its arms.
Thanks for your patience during this fairly arduous process, and…it’s only 79 days now until Kings comes out.