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Friday, April 15, 2016


I'VE BEEN WORKING FAIRLY INTENSELY on my edits for The Tattooed Queen. (This is its new title btw. It used to be The Tattooed Rose.) I'm in the final leg of the work, where I feel like I've rewritten the book at least twice. That's an exaggeration, of course, but it feels that way. Draft One (which I didn't think was Draft One and was probably a Draft Four, but seeing all the work I've done on it since, and which I finished and submitted to Five Rivers in March of 2015) gave way to the Real Draft Two. Real Draft Two addressed Lorina's suggestions. That edit took me six months from October 2015 to March 2016. Part of the prior hiatus was due to my mother's cancer and passing. I am now into Real Draft Three, which I hope will be the final to second-last pass before I send the manuscript back to Five Rivers. This one involves tweaking - tightening dialogue, sharpening and crystallizing action and description, cleaning up any clichés or lazy work with something fresher, and catching any remaining bits of exposition that shouldn't be exposition.

I only tell you this, because it's been a bloody mountain of work. (Thus the clever picture of Everest above, to illustrate.) I'm not complaining. Writing is what I do. And also, if you're a writer, that somewhere down the line, we might talk about all the effort that goes into our final product.

I always wonder if I work as hard as everyone else. If I do, that's good. Or maybe it just means I have to strive harder to see results.

In any event, a couple of thoughts occurred to me today. The first one was: if I have to work this hard to create something that's good, and it is good according to my standards (which are picky or obsessive, I haven't decided which), then I get a certain amount of satisfaction out of it. I get even more satisfaction when others tell me they think the work is wonderful.

The second thing was this: if you've been doing this gig as a writer for awhile, you do get a sense of your ability. And therein, lie the seeds of your own blindness. I actually thought the draft I sent to Lorina, way back in March, 2015, was good. As it turned out, her suggestions were extensive. She taught me a few things about my writing that, despite the other two books she's published and which had gone through the process smoothly, I had missed.

So, moral to this post, and to being a writer? Never settle. Never think you've reached a point in your art and technique where you are beyond improvement. Always strive for better work and keep an eye out to where you can improve. Accept suggestions with grace, and don't be afraid to set your ego aside now and then to hear them. It'll do your writing good.

- Susan.

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