What happened between November and January? Small Places edits, Dusk re-writes

It’s been a few months since I’ve posted, and it’s been a relatively productive time. Although Christmas was not what I was expecting, we nonetheless had a cosy, happy time, despite not seeing friends or family. It’s been a shock being back at work during January, but I think that’s true universally!

After a preliminary read of Small Places back in October by my chief beta reader (my wife), I decided to make some fairly sweeping changes to it. That meant a few rounds of edits and re-reads, before passing it back to her and another beta reader. The beta reader suggested a few minor changes, but my wife is still halfway through – although the feedback has been largely positive. I’ve been encouraged by both of them to re-query, so although this means that it’ll be delayed for slightly longer, hopefully what comes to you will be a slicker, better book.

I’ve also started a Dusk re-write. Last year, I’d written around 69k words, but one of the characters felt very flat, and it felt like I’d lost the sense of wonder that I enjoyed conveying so much within Parasites. I’ve restructured and re-built a lot of it, and although a lot of the previous work will stay, there have – again – been some fairly radical changes. I do hope that this means a better reading experience and a more enjoyable book in the long term.

Editing always feels relatively frustrating to me, almost as if I’d got the words wrong in the first place, but I’m gradually learning not to watch the word counts and simply try to enjoy the process, write the best thing I can – rather than simply producing a book, producing something I really like. I’m not sure if that’s clear, but last year I’d certainly fallen into the trap of feeling bad about not writing as many words as I theoretically could. Perhaps it’s different when you’re a more skilled writer, or a writer with a deadline, but I’m sure that for me, it was probably a product of pandemic stress!

Editing is not my strong suit…

When I was a kid, I read Maggie Prince’s Memoirs of a Dangerous Alien three times straight because I couldn’t bear to leave the world it was set in. Later, I found my sister’s hardback copy of The Time Traveller’s Wife, read it and immediately set out to find a signed paperback copy and read it all again, in all its sharp, painful beauty.

Unfortunately, it turns out that reading your own book – in the name of editing, of course – four times in a row is a sure-fire way to fall out of love with it. And maybe I’ve pushed it too hard.

I was supposed to go away with some friends at the weekend, but after a long, hard week, decided that I needed some self-care. And again, of course, that’s exactly what I didn’t do, finishing a third edit of Small Places and immediately starting on a fourth, only pausing on Sunday afternoon once I’d made the hundred and fifty-eighth change.

(In fairness, there are just over 72,000 words. Messing around with a couple of hundred each time isn’t awful)

But it did occur to me as I switched my brain off to enjoy a Fast and Furious film (guilty pleasure) that it probably isn’t the nicest thing to do to myself. So I’m slowing down a little. I’ve made a list of possible agents to query, but maybe I’ll do another edit first. Perhaps it’s best to wait until I’ve stopped dreaming of line edits and woken up thinking that there’s a massive plot hole somewhere in it.

I’m fairly sure there isn’t a massive plot hole in it.

Who knows – if all the agents say no, then it’s full speed ahead with self-publishing and you could be reading this by summertime.

I think my brain needs to recharge. And I know book blogging is hard for you guys, so please, look after yourselves as well.

I will if you will?