This week, my editor/publisher/son, Steve May, owner of Alderson Press, has my latest novel, To Find A Home. To those friends and relatives who have been hearing me say “it’s finished,” I confess all those declarations were pre-mature. Writing a novel is much like birthing a baby, but can take a lot longer.
I started this story almost two years ago, to keep my sanity while waiting for the arrival of my first novel, The Last to Know, which was published in January 2009. I wrote the final chapter of this current effort while on spring break. I let the manuscript cool for a couple of weeks before I read through it again. I tweaked some of the scenes, but I also could see it needed another chapter to clarify and smooth the story line. I shared these latest pages with my critique group, Central Arkansas Writers, who helped me flesh out this part of the story.
In late June I gave the ‘finished’ manuscript to my daughter, Linda, for proofing. She returned it a week or so later with pink tabs marking each page with a typo that needed correcting. A valuable service!
After those corrections were made, I edited the entire manuscript word by word, usually reading aloud to gauge the flow of the writing and pick up redundancies. A couple of times I used Microsoft’s word-search feature to find over-used words. Several times I found a better way to say what I was trying to convey or thought of something to add to the story. For instance, when Becca is about to be disciplined for misbehaving, her dad demands an apology. I decided she would give one of those non-apologies teenagers are good at, “I’m sorry you made me so mad that I …”
After I finished the word-by-word edit, I wrote the acknowledgement and ‘about the author’ pages. And then, read through chapters again, skipping around through the book. (Some self-editors read the text backwards.) Very few corrections this time, so I sent it off electronically.
The next step for me (besides waiting) is to write the text for the back cover and choose art/photography for the front cover. When I receive a galley from the printer, I will read and edit again, hopefully “with fresh eyes.”
Maybe by Christmas the baby will be here.