Now Is the Time of the Editor

Living on Dirt is in front of my editor. Assuming he’s facing his computer.

Of course it was late because of Valerie’s accident. Then, when I got back to writing, it took longer to complete than I’d anticipated because of Valerie’s accident. All the while I was hanging out with her I was thinking about the story, and when I was at the keyboard the fruit of all that thinking came pouring out. What had been intended as a 68,000-word novel is now a 74,600-word manuscript.

What will be cut and to what degree? Not sure, yet. I’ve reread it twice since turning it in and have seen where I want to add a couple of things, but nothing I want to cut.

In the writing of every novels there are periods where the writer hates every word they put on the page and others where the writer is very happy with every word and semicolon. The happy phase is really, really dangerous. That’s when great howling mistakes are made, when meaningless scenes are added, when the dialog becomes over the top clever, and the serpentine convolutions of the subplots require five or even six dimensions. And the writer is blind because….. Well, we’ve all been in love at least once in our lives. Visual acuity and sober judgment are not symptoms.

Now is the time of the editor.

Yes, I do listen to my beta readers. But the editor is my consigliere, my vizier, my chief adviser. It’s his observations I attend most closely. In the end, all the choices are mine—I’m the one solely responsible for the stories I tell and the way that I tell them. But part of being a writer is listening to what someone who knows you and knows your work advises. You can disagree with them — I often do — but their insights often (usually, in fact) make what you write stronger.

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