The edit rolls on.
I feel like I’m in an episode of the Twilight Zone, editing this novel. You know, one of those really creepy ones where there’s nothing overtly terrifying going on, but there’s a subtle horror creeping in at the edges of your vision, lurking behind you in the dark, an intrinsic strangeness to every piece of furniture, every passing stranger, every blade of grass. I recognize this text. I’ve walked its halls — hell, I created its halls — and I have a reasonably good memory of doing so. I remember building this character to do this thing, and developing this relationship so that x can help y do things later in the story. Nothing wrong there.
But as I read, there are oddities presenting themselves. Little misplaced things. Glitches in the matrix. Loose ends of code. I see a misspelled word here, a character referring to an event that never happened there, a magically-appeared whatchamacallit over there. Who left these things strewn about, like so many of my toddler’s toys in the abandoned toy chest which is this monolithic block of text in my word processor? They’re familiar, yet they’re not. Strange.
Then, there are the bits of prose which I do not recognize, and those are even creepier. They fit the tale, they advance the action, they’re even often funny and clever, but they, too, are wrong somehow. Like an alternate me wrote them. A me that wasn’t nearly so concerned with plot or character development or narrative unity, but rather focused on witticisms and playful digression and intermittent drizzling dazzlings of poesy.
Like so many other things in the novel, these interludes fit, but they don’t match. They’re definitely part of the same story and spun by the same hands, but maybe not crafted by the same mind, or at least not the same mind thinking on the same frequency as it was when it wrote the bulk of the story. So here, the usual quandary: is the rest of the novel — the bulk of the novel — written properly, while these flashes of poetics and digressive humor are out of place and merely distracting? Or are these misty patches the real essence of my story peeking through, and the rest of the novel is obscuring the heart of the tale with its drudgelike march through the necessary rigidity of the plot?
Thus the ever-growing EPOS (Editing Pile of Sharknado) grows ever larger. I knew that the first editing pass was going to be harsh times, but that pile is growing exponentially every time I process a few pages. I know it has to be done — I’ve got to process the whole thing and then I can break out the tools and start putting the monster back together right-side up — but the whole thing feels like one tremendous exercise in procrastination. I’m working, sure, but I’m not actually repairing the damage. Semantics, perhaps, but it’s just one more way I’m working against myself on this project.
Of course all this makes it sound like I’m slogging through swamps of sadness and misery working on this thing. Not the case. Re-reading my creations, being surprised by the little things I’d forgotten about, rediscovering the little quirks and eccentricities that burrowed their way in, is noting short of delightful, no matter how tedious and daunting the task at hand may be. I’m a little over a third of the way in. Keep the head down and keep pushing.