Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"Are we done yet?" and other things I worry about

Night before last was particularly sleepless. I stayed up late editing Seth. Then I woke up early and continued.

I think I'm done. I wrote an email to my agent, the esteemed Abigail Samoun, attached the document, and hit the send button. Abi wrote back, promising to read my changes over Thanksgiving weekend, as a way to avoid falling into a tryptophan coma. But the real question is, will she agree to the changes, or send the manuscript back for more work on my part?

I know I've written about this before, but editing is so much work. Because every little change ripples through the entire manuscript. Cut out the phrase, "I like peanut butter," in chapter two, and the scene with the elephant in chapter three no longer makes sense. That means the motivation of the monkey grinder in chapter seven seems hollow, which means his introduction back in chapter one has to be rewritten. But if you make adjustments to that introduction, you're going to throw off that whole set piece in chapter thirteen, with the cheerleaders in the Camaros. And if you make changes to the Camaro scene--well, you might as well just hold down the delete key until everything's gone except the title. Scratch that. Kill the title, too. It only works with the peanut butter phrase.

So there's that.

Meanwhile, while authors like me have been slaving away (slaving is the best word for it. Trust me.) on rewrites--on storytelling--the publishing gods have been busy on Mount Olympus, making alliances, cashing in chips, toying with the lives of us mere mortals.

If you recall, I'm editing A Matter of Life and Seth at the request of Editor X from Penguin Young Readers Group. But Penguin has just merged with Random House. (Rod Nash says they should call the new company Random Penguin.) I know, on the most intimate basis, that mergers can impact authors. I've been through this before. Some deals get killed. Some authors become orphans.

So, what does this mean for me? For Seth? Hopefully, only good things. But it makes a fella worry.

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