I am spending today doing other things, but tomorrow must steel myself to turn over that stack of pages and start re-reading – always a nerve-wracking moment. Self-editing can be a brutal process, and there’s a constant tension between what you know you really ought to do (rewrite entire scene, change entire character) and what you can actually face doing at this stage. I’ll certainly need to do some cutting, as revising nearly always involves adding extra words, and I’m already on 56,499. I suspect there’ll be quite a lot of repetition of backstory. The trouble with feeding it in instead of dumping it one fell swoop is that then you can’t remember what you’ve told the reader/other characters, so I’ll probably have to do a bit of work on that. And I have a sinking feeling that I’ll need to look at that pesky last scene which seemed to go on for ever while I was writing it. Sigh.
Once I’ve done as much as I can bear to, I’ll send it off to my editor, and she might have some comments and changes. Sometimes I get no revisions at all, which is obviously the best outcome, sometimes there are two or three tiny changes to make (oh, all right, if you insist …)And every now and then I get “tweaks”, as in: “just a couple of tweaks that will mean you have to rewrite the entire book”. When I submit my manuscript I never have any idea which of these three responses I’m going to get, so it’s fingers crossed time.
So the book isn’t really finished until my editor takes it to the acquisition meeting – or until the advance lands in my bank account. Still, this stage feels great, marking as it does the end of the long slog to get the words on paper, so I felt I deserved a little treat, even if it wasn’t wildly exciting. I always liked that scene at the beginning of Romancing the Stone, where Kathleen Turner celebrates ending her latest romance by garnishing the cat’s tin of fish with a sprig of parsley so Douglas got some extra munchies last night too, in spite of the fact that he was absolutely no help at all.