The beta edits of TSF are on track, meaning I will have a complete second draft of my manuscript by this weekend, and a polished version by the end of the month ready for readers to critique. I am tired yet caffeinated, nervous yet excited.
But mostly, excited.
I have a solid group of close friends who requested to be a part of my little experiment — and you know they’re solid when there’s little incentive, and the work itself is unpublished. I’m not the only one taking a big risk here, after all. My readers’ commentary will be invaluable on the path to publication, and their names will have a guaranteed place in the acknowledgements if it reaches that destination.
This part of the process is an interesting contradiction. So much of writing the novel — in my case, about five years — is a lonely voyage. You are very much on your own in the dark and choppy water. At times it feels futile and exhausting, as if you’re sailing nowhere, and at any time you could get lost or stranded.
But occasionally, glimpses of light will flicker over the horizon, reminding you of your purpose. And they’ll point you home.
When you finally come to that point of sharing your work, you’re a changed person. Those you choose to share it with are suddenly privy to a very intimate, exhilarating, life-changing experience, that only you (and your partner, if applicable) have even been aware of thus far. It’s a strange feeling, knowing that you’re about to bare so much of your heart and mind. And ultimately, that’s what my novel is — a piece of myself, my identity. The characters are like my children; their voices are my own.
Letting your work into the world is not an easy thing to do, but it must be done, for the sake of creative movement. The moment I pass off my manuscript to my beta readers, it is no longer just for me, but for the eyes of others.
The past two weeks have consisted of nonstop work on the alpha draft using the Hemingway app, good old fashioned Strunk & White, and some scrapping and rewriting of scenes. So far I’ve pared it down to roughly 87,000 words, about 7,000 less than the original. It seems a bit like losing a limb, but being able to condense a story and sharpen its pacing is the mark of a good revision. I can’t have my beta readers slogging through unnecessary exposition. In this way, I see it not as voluntary decapitation and instead as a developmental stage, like metamorphosis.
And for the most part, I’m just happy to see my feeble little spark brought to life. To finish what I started.
But with any luck, and my readers’ opinions, it will emerge a beautiful butterfly.