I finished the first draft of Intermission, my first young adult, coming of age novel and sent if off to my editor. Now I can --.
Did you hear that? Was that the voice of my editor, opening the file and calling for The BIG RED PEN OF DOOM?
Probably. You see, that's the beauty of a first draft. The blood. The guts. The gore. The slashing, the trimming, the slicing, the dicing. And this is my first opportunity to have my brand new baby novel gored by an honest-to-goodness professional. (Where's that Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom narrator guy when you need him? Oh. right.Likely dead. He was old when I was a kid watching the show on Sunday mornings in my PJs. And that was at least ten (and twenty) years ago. )
So, about the upcoming gore-fest. Am I scared? You bet.
Am I chicken?
Okay, a little. But the sky isn't falling, just probably, my ego a bit. I mean, I LOVE this story. I lu-u-uvv it. I birthed it. And it was agony. It was bliss.
I imagine that when I get that manuscript returned to me in a week or two I'm going to read it, read all the hashmarks and x'd out sections, the bubble comments, the suggestions, and then take about a 48-hour bubble bath (complete with copious amounts of Dr. Pepper and Chocolate!) before my ego recovers.
Yes, I'm that insecure. That prideful. That... obsessed with Dr. Pepper and chocolate. In fact, I'm getting a little thirsty right now....
Eventually, I will leave my bubbly, fizzy, chocolatey cocoon and raise my gloves at the manuscript for Round Two. DING! DING! DING! And then I will remember why I love this part. I love the editing/rewriting phrase. I love falling in love with my story all over again. It'll be soooo, so good.
Editing toward excellence. That is my mantra. Dang it, though, it's a lame-o sort of mantra. Give me time, I'll come up with something catchy. After all, it's what I do.
I imagine by the time I get to the end of Round Two the process will have imparted the same feeling one gets upon stepping on the scale and realizing, "Oh my gosh! I lost 60 pounds! I look like Catherine Zeta-Jones!"
(This is the imagining part. I've never actually experienced that feeling, but I have daydreamed about it. I've also dreamed about winning the Oscar for Best Original Song in a Motion Picture while clutching the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Black dress, of course. Or a bronzy brown? Michael Cors? Jimmy Choo, for sure. Harry Winston or Cartier? Hmm. What were we talking about again????)
So... fiction mirrors truth. Yes, it does. And this newest novel is no exception. (This is me, hoping to give you desire to read this book when it is published) But the truth hurts sometimes, even fictionalized. Examining our own weaknesses, our own areas of pride, our own blindness, our pain, and our own sin and then curving it, shaping it, pounding it, and sculpting it into into something new and fresh -- and without the possibility of a libel suit, har, har. -- results in creating richer, more believable characters and a deeper, more compelling story.
And that is why I welcome the scalpel. Why I'm willing to hand that sharp object to my editor myself, knowing how accident prone I tend to be.