And it’s one of those times that I want to laugh hollowly at the idea that I have anything to say upon the subject. I’m curled fetal under my desk, whimpering. This is my eleventh full-length novel for publication, and some things are just routine–like the mid-book existential crisis. The first draft of this book (the second Veronica adventure) is done; I’m tearing it apart to make it cohesive. This is the Frankenbook stage, where scenes are cut and replaced, stitching into a new spot to make the book better, stronger. It’s an ugly process. Things get cut that I like, things I don’t WANT to cut.
But I am relentless, snip snip snip. Have you ever heard of the Moirai of Greek mythology? You might know them better as the Three Fates. They were sisters, Clotho, who spun the thread of a person’s life, Lachesis, who allotted the appropriate length, and Atropos who went SNIP with her scissors and cut off the thread at the point of death. I’m in full-on Atropos mode right now, wielding my shears without pity. If something doesn’t work, no matter how much I love it, no matter how much I want to plead with myself to keep it, IT GOES. The bits I save get patched in to new places and suddenly the book takes a different shape, related to the first draft, but not identical. Siblings, not twins–and sometimes only cousins.
There’s very much the feeling of a lonely traveler on a dark and misty road at this stage. Wolfish deadlines nip at the heels, so there’s nothing to do but push forward into the unknown. The only consolation is the knowledge that you’ve come this way before. Not the exact path, not the exact creepy woods on either side, but this wandering way is familiar. There’s almost a comfort in knowing that you’ve suffered for a book before and you will suffer again. You begin to worry about NOT suffering, but no worry: this book will torture you as much as it can. But you make friends with it in spite of its prickling ways, and by the time you come out the other end, you’re companions together. You’re glad to part company for awhile, but you miss its complaints. Until it decides to pay a visit and demand you revise it. But that’s an agony for another day.