Even the Flaws Must be Flawless

Draft 14 and Cameroned

Two different people, two different stances. They baulked in their own ways at the same things, things I thought were fine, until I read their reasonable assertions. The result? Draft fifteen and counting.

Two different people, two different stances. They baulked in their own ways at the same things, things I thought were fine, until I read their reasonable assertions. The result? Draft fifteen and counting.

I would have uploaded Gnaw by now if I didn’t have such a hang-up about perfection even though I know perfection isn’t possible. Yes, I was tempted to take Gnaw, published ten years ago, accept the flaws, pass them off as engineered and make it a quick repurpose job for ebook but I’ve learnt a lot in ten years. Readers deserve more than that. The characters themselves deserve more that that. When I wrote the male character initially, my protagonist did not need understand him. On re-read it nagged me. This guy could not just be a stooge for her musing; he had to be a real problem in his own right, an addition to the equation, possibly even a solution? It took nerve to develop Kenneth, who before was named after an alcoholic spirit (or pub), and make him more of a nuisance in his own right, but ‘our Kenneth’ is now firmly planted on the ground a spanner in the works for however long he lives in this format.

Rewriting it was like a piece of archaeological reconstruction. Like trying to conjure an urn out of a rim. I have excavated it, dusted it down and extracted the details. Perhaps I am less afraid of that story now because I am less afraid of love (Illustration: Jennifer Brady).

Rewriting it was like a piece of archaeological reconstruction. Like trying to conjure an urn out of a rim. I have excavated it, dusted it down and extracted the details. Perhaps I am less afraid of that story now because I am less afraid of love (Illustration: Jennifer Brady).

Another change: Gnaw was always a love story and within that, there was a metaphor for addiction. However while the metaphor was there, the love story was absent. I have put that love story in now. I had to be careful doing that. It was like a piece of archaeological reconstruction. In the weirdest piece of rewriting ever, I had to respect the original writer (myself in this case), and ascertain from evidence (ie the printed story), what that story was. It was like trying to conjure an urn out of a rim. Had I genuinely intended to leave the love story out back then? Or was I simply hidden to it? I have made a call on that now, excavated it, dusted it down with tact and extracted the details. Perhaps I am less afraid of that love story now because I am less afraid of love.

The title remains. There is no better one. The conundrum and solution is summed up in that title. I still believe that. It is the firmest artefact in the reconstruction of this particular rewrite.

So, after fourteen drafts of Gnaw in its new form, it did finally get to the copy-editor before Christmas (see previous post: Postcard to an Editor). I also sent it for a ‘stress test’ read with author and peer Janet Cameron. Two different people, two different stances, the result? They baulked in their own ways at the same things, things I thought were fine, until I read their reasonable assertions. Now, with draft fifteen incorporating editorial comments done, I realise I’ll need at least two or three more to get it close to flawless.

5 thoughts on “Even the Flaws Must be Flawless

  1. Woo-hoo! If I’d known I was going to get the mentions here, I think I would have been more articulate in the Word comments than weighing in with ‘me like’ on my favourite bits. Thanks, Jen. I can’t wait to see the finished product!

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  3. It was interesting to read about this process, I am reading a book about copy-editing and proofreading right now (it is all new to me) so it was good to read about this real, ongoing side of it. I will look out for when Gnaw becomes available. It sounds a very torturous process, but certainly the right thing to do for the book and for peace of mind. And I’m sure it will make the finished product all the more rewarding. All the best with the project, sounds like it’s coming together, looking forward to reading. Addiction metaphor sounds intriguing. 🙂

    • Hi Stephen, sorry about delayed reply, I’m doing a course for work which is eating into my time, left right centre. I’m sort of ready to go with this except have a few decisions to make re distribution, which is another phase of the project. I also want to explore the joys of conversion and testing on device, but the writing is done and the cover. Hope you are well? Have you consulted Judith Butcher’s ‘Copy-editing’ (note her preference for the hyphen here, real editor stuff! This is very good for UK type editing Also ‘Hart’s Rules’ and ‘Chicago Manual of Style’,for all and US styles and a real oldie is Strunk’s, ‘The Elements of Style’.

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