‘The Fifth Compendium’ is Done!

Yes, it’s true! The first draft for ‘The Fifth Compendium’ is done.

It’s been a long way since I wrote this books’s first words three years ago. I’ve done other work since, but when I look at ‘The Fifth Compendium’, I feel like a father about to send his elder child into the world. I’m proud of the work. Could I have made a better job? Probably, but who doesn’t mess up their first kid? There will be other books, other send offs, but not like this one.

I mentioned numerous times my distaste for editing. With now much more experience, I can tell that it’s not that I hate editing anymore (I used to). It’s more that it’s much less fun to edit than to write a fresh draft.

I’ve been reading the classic ‘Writing to Sell’ by Scott Meredith. Scott was a very renowned agent back in the 50es and his pupils are about everywhere in the publishing world today. One of them (Joshua Bilmes) is today one of the best agents. Scott knew his business and he knew about writing. One of the things he says in his book is that even if you know as a writer that you can rewrite, you shouldn’t plan to.

After now 8 months straight of editing (for a book I spent 5 months writing in the first place), I can see the wisdom in that.

I hear so often ‘put it down on paper first’, ‘don’t edit yourself on a first draft’ and so on that ‘Dare to be bad’ has become my mantra. Now, after a long period of editing, I keep wondering if I shouldn’t have spent a little more time on the first draft and produced a cleaner script. If I look back at the portions I edited out, I often needed to rewrite half a scene, because when I wrote it, I needed to warm up and wrote it bad. Dare to be bad? Maybe I should say ‘Dare to be not so bad’.

Yes, we have the luxury to rewrite our work. It doesn’t mean we should have to.

The good news is that I’ve re-read parts of ‘Shrouds’ and saw definite improvements in my writing, so I hope this one won’t take me another year to edit.

Another lesson well learned : I do need hard deadlines. I only picked up my editing speed when I decided to impose myself a deadline. The original deadline said ‘before vacation time’, but as I worked, I moved it up to one week before, which is today. The last weeks have been busy, but I’m here.

I’m going to rest a bit now and select the editors and agents I want to submit to. With luck, Gollancz won’t have forgotten about me and I may be able to send them a full. We’ll see about that.

Next step is finishing ‘The Emerald Shower’, which is fun first draft writing. After that, it will be back to editing ‘Shrouds’ as the next book (still untitled) matures in my head. It’s about ready, but I can’t afford to have 3 books to edit in a row next year.