I’m in the final stages of Somewhere Between Luck and Trust, the second in my Goddesses Anonymous series. Can those of you who’ve just read One Mountain Away guess the major character in this one? She was introduced in the first book, and we’ve traveled another winding road to the end of this novel. But the journey’s been a good one, except for one problem.
As I always do, once my first draft is finished, I read the entire manuscript out loud. No matter how many times I do this, I am always surprised at the number of changes I need. Awkward sentences. Timelines to rework. Repetition. Stilted dialogue and more. My ear catches all the problems my eyes glossed over so easily. I can’t imagine turning in a book without this final step, no matter how tedious and never-ending it seems.
And tedious and never-ending describe it well.
The biggest problem I’ve had with Somewhere has been length. I didn’t know my final word count until I put the whole book into one file. And the news wasn’t good. Even before I began to read, I realized I had to cut a large chunk of what I’d written to even get near the ballpark. So for the past two weeks as I read, I trimmed. One whole chapter went because it slowed the action. Half of another chapter met the same fate. Sentences fell like trees in a logger’s path. But despite that, the book was still too long. The word count inched down, but not nearly far or fast enough.
Then yesterday, in the final third, a miracle occurred. I discovered that at some point, as I was moving chapters into my final file, I had moved two of them twice. Once they were removed my word count was almost where I needed it to be. And I still have eight chapters to read and revise. Who knows how many words will disappear by the time I’m done?
Someday I’ll learn to condense as I write. Someday I’ll have fewer ideas and explore them with less detail. Someday . . . But for now, picture me at my computer reading each sentence out loud and weighing the content. Then picture me dancing a jig on Wednesday when the manuscript finally takes flight for the next stage of its journey.
I will, too. You can count on it.