Is it Easter already?

It’s been quite a bit of time since I’ve posted anything here. In fact, even my Twitter activity has been kind of low these last few months.

Do you know why? Editing is not that interesting to blog about, and I’ve been doing a lot of editing.

Let’s rewind a few months.

I had the opportunity to send 10 000 words to Gollancz’s editing  director Gillian Redfearn. Now, I wanted to have the full editing experience, so I composed a query package including the query letter, synopsis,  and my text. Since I could only reduce the synopsis to 2 000 words, it meant my text couldn’t be more than 8 000 words. That’s not a lot, especially for me.

Per Ian McDonald’s advice, I knew I had to end my submission on a dramatic beat, so I looked for one. The Prologue was a no-brainer and I included it. Oops, here’s half my allotted words gone away. Chapter 1 was good character development but too slow (the running gag is that it took me 3000 words to say “Ciera went to work”). Chapter 2 was on another character (still some nice development going on here) and no dramatic beat. Now, chapter 3 was a Ciera chapter with a little bit of surprise on the middle.

So, I could merge my 2 Ciera chapters, I could find my dramatic ending. The trouble was that all those sections put together were around 7 000 words.

That meant a round of hard editing, cutting off entire paragraphs off (sometimes, entire pages). After a few rounds of comments from my trusted readers, I felt confident enough to send my submission out.

That was early January.

The original plan was to go back and finish book 3, but I figured that if I could edit book 1 in full before Eastercon, I might have something to actually pitch to agents and editors there. So, I went to editing.

Let’s face it, I’m as good as GRR Martin when it comes to plan a schedule (unless I have a hard objective to meet it seems). So editing drifted a little (Ok, a lot). Today, I’m about halfway through book 1 with a few side editings of books 2 and 3.. Granted, there were some health issues in my family and I could have been more productive, but let’s face it : editing is much harder than writing. On average I edit only as fast as I write. That means I can only edit about 1 000 words a day. As the book was written in 5 months, that gives a rough estimate for the editing (expected to be over by the end of may, and I think even that’s optimistic).

That’s when Gillian asked me for chapter 2.

It was a few weeks before Easter. She had been swamped by larger than expected books delivered (expect a fat Joe Abercrombie in a few months) and started to edit my work basically in late march. After a brief instant of panic (“I haven’t merged my chapter 2 yet!”), I was very pleased to know that the writing didn’t repulse her and that she wanted more (whatever her reasons). I merged my 2 3 000 words chapters and managed to bring what I delivered back to 2 000 words. As I said on twitter, 3+3=2 when editing. I sent her the new chapter and waited for her answer.

Her feedback came shortly before I went to Eastercon.

I must say it surprised me. I mean, this was my first novel I submitted. Even with heavy revisions, it’s still the first thing I ever wrote and I expected a professional editor to send it back bleeding red with a side note saying “This story isn’t novel worthy”. Maybe that was my writer’s insecurity talking here, but I really expected to be trashed to some extent.

Along with her annotations, she wrote this to me:

“The main thing I’d like to say, though, is that it’s very nicely done. Your ideas are strong, the characters are nicely constructed, and the world is well conceived and well evoked. Those things are all rarer than you might think :)”

Now, that’s high praise for any aspiring writer. The edited document was bleeding red as I expected, but showed no big  mistakes – except my antagonist’s name which happens to be the name of a lethal illness (that made me laugh no end). Oh, and she loved the query letter, so I was overjoyed to say the least.

That gave me enough confidence to go to Eastercon with a load of questions for her.

But that’s another story for another blog post!