Monday, February 25, 2013

Walking the Dog

I finished my editing while recovering from surgery. I’d not only completed a life-long dream, I was proud of it. I was ready to take my book puppy for a walk in the park.  People would tell me how cute and handsome he was.  I’d smile humbly on the outside and feel like a genius within.

I sent my friend, Eva Marie Everson, the first few chapters.  She’s an accomplished writer with a long string of published works. “What a cute puppy,” she remarked politely.  Then she reminded me puppies make messes and messes require cleanup. She pointed out my bad writing habits.  “Go through the manuscript and surgically remove the word ‘that.’ Most sentences don’t need it; excess baggage.”  So I spent days performing ‘that-ectomies.’

Then I showed the manuscript to Dave Greek.  He’s an English professor and a good enough friend to be brutally honest about my puppy.  Since I’d removed the thats, he blistered me for over-using the word ‘it.’  He claimed that lazy writers say ‘it’ when they should be more descriptive.  So I spent several more days performing ‘it-ectomies.’

And on it  (editing changes) went for weeks.  My manuscript contained more red than a pitcher of Kool-aid.  Genius fled; I started feeling like the amateur writer I was.  Every page reminded me that my puppy needed a bath.

My book and I both underwent surgery. I lost a tumor and became a better writer.