Monday, July 30, 2012

Listening to the rain



Yesterday morning, I walked outside to change up the soaker hoses in the gardens, and discovered something was falling from the sky. It was rain – lovely, much needed rain, a good soaking rain that lasted until lunchtime. If our rain gauge is correct, we received more than an inch.

I listened to the sound of the water traveling the downspout outside my home office window. I was working on the edits for the manuscript to A Light Shining, the sequel to Dancing Priest. I had set it aside for a time, before trying to work through the changes suggested by both the editor and a serious reader. I’m going through the changes now, making steady progress.

Most of the edits are relatively easy – small technical things, like using book style versus the Associated Press style I have written with for more than 40 years; and a few corrections to align what’s in the book with various current practices and situations. The technical edits are things like the use of commas in a series, how to write numbers, and the use of em-dashes instead of hyphens. These are relatively minor things, but you have to go through them page by page. Tedium is an integral part of the writing process.

Some criticism and issues are not minor. To explain what these in are in great detail would give the story away, but I can say they focus on five of the six sections. Some sections are felt to drag and get bogged down in too much detail; others are questioned as to whether they’re needed to not.

With Dancing Priest, I removed some material almost wholesale, before anyone saw the finished manuscript (except for my wife). A section involving the father of Sarah and David Hughes was removed, as was an extended wedding scene. In fact, the original manuscript ended with a wedding; the published book ends with an engagement. The wedding, by the way, is not in the sequel; A Light Shining begins after the wedding.

Part of what I’m wrestling with is that the serious criticisms from the editor and the reader were not the same. In fact, in some cases, they contradicted each other. One liked Part 1; one didn’t. One liked Part 2, and one didn’t. Both liked Part 3 but suggested extensive changes. They did agree on ending the book at a point different from the current manuscript.

As the King of Siam told Anna, is a puzzlement. Except a solution is forming in the back of my mind, where I’m letting it sit for now, a solution involving a new character.

So the plan is: get through the technical edits and corrections; set where the manuscript is at that point; determine how much rewriting is needed; and consider this new character. What will remain is the larger, overarching story. A Light Shining is less of a romance that Dancing Priest, and it covers only about a year. But it is the year that everything changes for Michael and Sarah, and their story becomes a much larger story.

In the meantime, I listen to the rain, hear the water falling through the downspout, and am thankful for this much needed change.


Photograph: Rain by Jiri Hodan via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.

10 comments:

geraldthewriter.com said...

You have trained well. Your perseverance is encouraging.

Maureen said...

I think you'll know, intuitively, when the book is ready to be let go and sent out into the world. I'm glad you're sticking with it to make it the best it can be.

JofIndia said...

The creative process is such a conundrum. Is there a perfect but virtual product waiting "out there" to be realised...

The question carries such heady Christian resonance.

For my own art, I don't think I'll ever manage to get beyond em-hyphens and en-hyphens!

Martha J. M. Orlando said...

Sounds like you're making progress, Glynn. Do follow your instincts when it comes to changes in the book.
Blessings!

nance said...

nothing like a good rain to clear the air...

Bill (cycleguy) said...

Looking forward to A Light Shining Glynn. As for the rain, how about sending some our way!

David Rupert said...

For me, the rain forces me inside to do necessary work.

the conflicting suggestions I imagine are the hardest to deal with.

Such is the nature of things. Some hate it. Some love it.

Jody Lee Collins said...

there is nothing lovelier than the sound of the rain...even here in Seattle. May it continue to inspire you as you edit!

Linda said...

It is so interesting to read about the writing process Glynn. Praying that the new thought will result in just the right changes. I can't wait to read this book.

H. Gillham said...

good luck -- writing is fun, re-writing less,and excising, lifting, and removal painful