Friday, June 05, 2009

Writing Journey: Part XVII

Catch up on the rest of this series HERE

I opened up the hard-copy edit, grabbed my trusty red pen and stack of sticky flags, and settled in for what I thought would be several long sessions of going over the revised and now edited manuscript of Tower of Strength. (By this point, it had a title!)

Two and a half hours later, I was done.

What?! I could hardly believe it. I'd never gone through an edit so fast.

For days (weeks?) I ping ponged between two reactions:

1) Crap. Kirk has a light touch as an editor, and he doesn't want to hurt my feelings, so this thing really sucks, and I'll never know it.

2) Wow. This must be the most brilliant thing I've ever written. It hardly needed an edit.

The reality, of course, was neither end of the psychotic-writer emotional spectrum.

The book had been quite thoroughly gone over by members of my critique group. The rewrite process was majorly streamlined with that phone conference, so at this point, there was less to worry about. And Kirk and I think similarly; I like his editing style, so I didn't have to STET much.

Plus two other factors weighed into the whole thing:

When I was doing revisions and edits on Spires, I was on a medication that basically made my brain fall out of my head. (You can read the whole post on that HERE.)

After the Tower edit, I had to remind myself that even though the Spires revisions and edits were intense, they were made far worse by the medication's side effects. I could sit at the computer for three hours trying to write and have absolutely nothing to show for it. It was both frustrating and scary.

While drafting, revising, and editing Tower of Strength, I wasn't on funky meds.

Maybe, just maybe, I've finally, finally learned how to craft a story half-decently the first time.

But still . . . two and a half HOURS? Not even DAYS?

I sent back the edit and soon after got yet another request from Kirk for a phone conference about my editorial notes.

I couldn't fathom why.

My old editor, Angela, would e-mail me massive lists of notes with literally dozens of things like, "on page 42, the second paragraph, who do you mean by 'he'? It's unclear in context."

You'd think I would have learned by now that Kirk just works differently. He's a phone guy, not an e-mail guy.

Our second phone conference lasted about three minutes. He had (not kidding here) a total of four questions for me. And THREE involved punctuation. Seriously. But he wanted to be sure I was okay with whatever changes were made there.

After hanging up, I think I did a jig.

Close to this time, two significant things happened.

First, I figured it was about time I research on my next temple. I decided to do Vernal, because it's the only other "old" temple in Utah, even though it was originally a tabernacle and was refurbished into a temple later. I dug up a huge, honkin' (rather pricey) book about Vernal and Uintah County and began reading.

The second thing that happened would affect my future writing path in ways I never imagined. A magazine I often freelance for was planning a patriotic issue and wanted to focus on our soldiers. A very good friend was in the middle of a deployment at the time, and I had the idea of interviewing her and some of her Army wife friends via e-mail and then writing an article about what deployment is like for the families at home.

That article was one of the hardest things I've ever written; the five women who shared their stories with me sent pages and pages of material that touched my heart and had me weeping. I was supposed to turn all of that into 800 words (about 3 pages double-spaced). No way could I do that. The editor granted me 1,200 words: still not enough to do them justice, but better than before.

You can read the final article HERE.

After the article's publication, the topic nagged and nagged in the back of my mind. I couldn't let it go. I'd shrug it off and return to my History of Uintah County book.

Move, on, lady, I told myself. You write historical temple novels.


Kristina P. said...

I will definitely go read that article. I'm sure it's amazing.

Anonymous said...

I'll click on over and read the article. Kirk sounds like a great editor. Despite how wonderful I think you are, I'm sure that your writing has only gotten better with time. =]

Randi said...

Yeah, I'm on my way to the article, too. It sounds incredible!

Rebecca Irvine said...

I still love this series as much as when you began. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

Amanda D said...

I've never heard of the magazine, but the article was wonderful. I CAN NOT wait for the military wife book. I'm still enjoying these posts about your journey -- keep 'em coming!

Luisa Perkins said...

Ah yes, the psychotic writer emotional spectrum: how well I know it! You're so balanced and grounded, though. You continually inspire me.

Carolyn V. said...

How fantastic that you only had to do a few hours of revisions! You're writing just keeps getting better and better! Keep it up! (oh and thanks for the inspiration. ;))

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

Amen to Luisa's comment (I'm too tired to be original this morning).

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Awesome about the editing! You rock!

Julie Wright said...

You are an amazing writer. of course you only had a couple of hours of edits :)

Jo said...

Kirk rocks. But you knew that. I really enjoy reading how things went along with your writing.

Heather of the EO said...

You really are inspiring, Annette.

I've just been (finally) catching up here, and I do always find you inspiring.

Jenna said...

I love your DSM article. My sister is a military wife, two times sending her husband to first Iraq and then Afghanistan, BOTH times just days after giving birth to their boys. He missed the first year of each of their lives, and so much more. It was really hard for her. You did a lovely job capturing those sweeping emotions.

An Ordinary Mom said...

Kirk and you seem to click really well. And you ARE a fabulous writer :) !!

Your article on military wives is very inspiring. Will this spark a new book idea?


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