Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Editing My Life

Today, my big focus is final editing on my new book, THE UNMAKING OF A PART TIME CHRISTIAN. This is the last time I'll see the galley.

I can't make changes extensive enough to impact the pagination, but I can finesse sentences, change a word here and there, and fine-tune nuances of meaning - that kind of thing.

Many writers dread this part of the "production" process. But I have learned to enjoy the craft. For me, editing is like chipping away at a good sculpture until it becomes a real masterpiece; it's the finish work that turns a well-designed house into a welcoming home; it's detail, fine-grade sandpaper, careful paintwork, staging and fresh flowers; it's presentation and garnish; it's tailoring; it's pairing with the appropriate wine; it's the right tie with the right suit and the right socks with shoelaces that are not frayed - even if no-one's going to necessarily see them - because it's all important.

It's "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts", certainly. But it's also understanding that the whole is going to be far greater still if each one of those parts is carefully measured, honed to perfection, and placed exactly where it needs to be....

It's always amazing how many small changes remain at this late stage. Typos that have slipped by all the edits (or were introduced in the most recent edit); words repeated too often within one page or even a chapter; errors in fact; contradictions; quotes opened but not closed; incomplete thoughts or ideas that simply don't ring true anymore.

Most tricky has been the fact that my original manuscript was a good 50% bigger than the version going to print. It's a good discipline to learn how to condense, and my product today is significantly stronger than when this all started; but I still run into the occasional sentence or paragraph that references or relies on a section of the book that does not even exist anymore.

But like I said, I honestly do enjoy putting the finishing touches on a project I'm excited about and deeply committed to. It's like the title suggests - we're all works in progress. God is editing even as we speak, only it's only with our permission and collaboration. Editors understand that, without the author on board, the entire project could quite easily collapse.

I'll be talking a lot more about what it means to move beyond part time faith over the next couple of months. The book comes out in September.

Love, blessings, and good editing - DEREK

No comments: