This week I started "proper" editing. In theory I have been editing this book for the whole of February, but in practice it was more about brainstorming a plot layer I want to add, making some revision notes, and generally worrying about how daunting the whole thing was, and how I was never going to get that damn book finished because I was never going to get on with the editing.
Of course the rational part of my brain knew it was silly. After all, I have edited short stories and I am perfectly capable of doing it. I wrote and edited 20000 words Thesis for University. So it's not the editing - it's the fear that everything has to make sense and tie up and flow smoothly through the entire book, and somehow my vision just won't translate on the page. But of course that was silly, because unless I actually start doing the work, it's not going to get done.
So having plucked up the courage, and also having run out of excuses to do more brainstorming without actually applying changes, I started proper edits couple of days ago. Doing so, and fitting it in nicely with my first assignment from Empowering Characters Emotions class, I had to examine few sentences individually. After spending more time than what one would usually devote to one sentence, I had two reactions! - WOW and OH CRAP.
WOW - The difference in those sentences was considerable. Of course, it wouldn't apply to every sentence, because some sentences have to basic. But just reading them now, compared to what they were before, I feel proud to read them. That is not to say they are perfect. I might even change them if they don't fit in with the final draft, but they are much much better than what I initially had, and they came not from any clever tricks, but from bit more thought. So that was the WOW.
OH CRAP - was because I realised how much time and effort and thought I would need to give to my entire manuscript, sentence by sentence, if I am to have that much impact on the entire book. Believe me, for someone who dreams of writing one book after another, and considers patience to be a theoretical concept, it's a nightmare. But the end result is worth it, so I know I have to make that effort.
That's what the title of this post is about. Doing your best as you are now, might be enough. It might even produce a saleable book, or it might not. Doing your best, you can tell yourself that you did what you could, so you can live with the end product.
But to do the best for your book might mean you need to push yourself beyond your best. You need to extend your own boundaries, try new things, let go of preconceptions or of a solid plan you may have in mind. You need to think not only of what you want from your story, but what your story needs. Our stories are organic things - they are not just objects churned out of a production line. They come from our minds and soul, bear what we are and what we believe or don't believe. Each story carries an essence of its author. Does it not deserve then to be written as best as possible so that it stands there out in the world as its true self - the original vision that you once imagined in the beginning of creative frenzy, before you started worrying about outlines and structures and publishers?
I believe it does. I want to be a career novelist, but more than that, I want to be a story-teller who portrays the story's true self.