Editing is one of those processes that can be time-consuming, hair-pulling, enjoyable, go outside and put your head in a bucket of water or a mixture of all four. The editing of Absolution Creek (like the writing of it) has been stalled intermittantly once again by mother nature. With 130 pages to go this edit has been a little more difficult than my previous two novels. I knew it would be. I’d been living in the world of the Wangallon Gordons for nearly ten years by the time book 2 came out and Absolution Creek is a brand new story with new characters, although the bush setting is still pivotal. It’s a hard call to write a novel in one year at the best of times. Throw in an interweaving narrative, historical detail which requires research and the determination to write something that is a little different and it’s a ‘task’ not for the faint-hearted. Occassionally I envy those big name authors with their assistants and researchers, but only occassionally. I like the creative rush of a deadline. I live my stories as I write them and, as the researcher and writer, I love discovering different elements that combined with a solid plot make the narrative hopefully ‘zing’. A well-known writing friend told me last week that I hadn’t been on the treadmill long enough. That come book 7 or 8 I’d be wishing for some assistance or at least some inspiration to keep the old ‘pen’ sliding across the page. Well maybe I will. But I reckon I’ll be pretty chuffed if people are still reading my work in eight books time.
So what am I checking during the editing process of Absolution Creek? Character motivation, timeline and clarity of the two interweaving time periods. I also have some of the same characters appearing in both time periods so I need to ensure that readers can clearly differentiate between character ages.
Here’s a picture of the manuscript for The Bark Cutters. The editorial markups for both it and A Changing Land were done directly onto my laptop. With The Bark Cutters I ended up printing the work out anyway, as I decided to add to the first few chapters, hence the post-it notes you can see. Once both author and editor are happy with the initial editing process the manuscript is typeset. The next picture shows typeset pages for A Changing Land. This is actually known in publishing lingo as ‘first pages’ or ‘author pages’. The author gets to double-check details and/or, the editor may decide more work is required on the manuscript. This process can go up to ‘second and third’ pages plus, with the typed pages of the ms going to and fro between the author and publisher. Towards the end of the process and invariably before the manuscript is ‘polished’ and ready for printing, a proof copy will be printed up and circulated to ‘readers’ ie; booksellers and reviewers. It’s a little hard to read however the red band across the top of the proof copy of The Bark Cutters says; Uncorrected Bound Proof – Not For Sale.
It’s a lengthy process. The lead time between an author submitting a manuscript and the actual book shelf appearence of a new title averages in at about 7 months. Hmm, I better get back to editing…