Category: edits and re-writes

Edits…Bury it, Officer and The Bachelor

For some reason, edits always come around at the same time. I don’t plan this. But this is a good thing. I hate to be working on one book and editing another at the same time. It’s hard to switch gears that way.

For the past week, I’ve been working on edits for my new short story with, BURY IT, OFFICER. And on my new novel for ravenous romance, THE BACHELOR.

And I went way over word count on THE BACHELOR. It’s pushing 71,000, which is longer than I usually like a m/m erotic romance to be. But in this case I think it works. When I started editing, it was over 100,00, but I thought that was far too long and wound up editing almost 30,000 words. Which isn’t easy to do. Mostly what I cut out were erotic scenes. This is one of those books were the romance doesn’t really get under way until the middle of the book, and up until then, the main character, Jim Johnston, has a few little flings along the way that leave him less than satisfied.

But I think he grew in this book, which is what I wanted from him this time. And the erotic scenes I did cut turned out to be scenes that weren’t really needed. Too bad there isn’t a section at the back of books like they do with films, where everything that’s cut during edits is shown to the reader in an unedited version. I’d love to read them myself.

A Typical Day for a Writer…Fifteen Years Ago

First, you wrote. You didn’t e-mail, facebook, blog, or check amazon ranks. You didn’t tweet, comment, post, or read group mail. Other than reading the morning newspaper, there wasn’t much else you could do but write.

So much has changed in the past ten years it’s almost hard to imagine. I’ve been writing fiction and getting published since college, so writing and working in the publishing industry for me has never been a life change or a creative release. It’s what I do, and always has been. And twenty years from now, I may or may not be writing m/m romance or m/m fiction, but I’ll still be writing something.

For writers, life has become much easier than it was fifteen years ago. On a typical Monday morning fifteen years ago, I’d open my art gallery, set up displays and lighting, and then I’d sit down at my desk and start working on another short story or magazine piece. After working as an editor in publishing for Conde Nast, I decided to open my own business…an art gallery…so I’d have the time and the freedom to write my own work instead of editing someone else’s work. It wasn’t always easy running a business seven days a week and juggling a writing career. But it worked for me. The business was unrelated to the writing, and switching gears all the time was a good thing.

Monday to Thursday in the gallery were slow days, so I had plenty of time to write, get manuscripts out to publishers, and talk to editors on the phone. I was late coming to computers. I didn’t actually start writing on a computer until 2000, and all the work I submitted to publishers was hardcopy up until 2005. But I wasn’t the only one, and I know for a fact there are still agents and editors who prefer hardcopy to electronic pages. And, I didn’t even work on a word processor. I wrote everything on an IBM electric typewriter, from fiction to magazine pieces. I had shelves with stacks of ink cartridges, rows of white out, and all kinds of correct ribbons. When you made a mistake on a typewriter you either tried to correct it as best you could, or you just started over again.

That’s why I’m always a little amused when I hear writers talking about edits now. Fifteen years ago edits were revises and re-writes. And you either learned how to be a proficient typist or you spent days picking at keys trying to get it perfect. Editors wanted neat, perfect manuscripts. If you submitted something with corrections and white out, they didn’t even bother to read it. If you weren’t a great typist, you paid someone to type a manuscript for you, which wasn’t cheap. Of course nowadays with Word Documents it’s simple to get things right with just a few clicks and edits. If you want to change a characer’s name, it takes minutes. But with the old ways, it took time, energy, and attention to detail. You either learned to live with a character’s name or you re-write the entire book. In other words, writers wrote and re-wrote. And nothing was actually edited until it went to the publisher.

Thanks to computers and everything going electronic, all this has changed. I can get a short story written, edited, and submitted within a week. A novel can take anywhere from one month to two months in most cases. I even wrote one novel I had pubbed under a pen name in three weeks, which would have been impossible to do fifteen years ago.

But the interesting thing is I miss the old days sometimes. If computers disappeared tomorrow and I had to go back to working on a typewriter I wouldn’t have any problems at all. I could live without social networks, e-mails, and all the other things I’m come to depend on daily. I love having access to so many new books and I love reading all these online book review sites. But I could live without them all as well. I’m not sure I could say the same for most authors who never knew what it was like to type up a manuscript fifty times until it was perfect. It took tenacity and never ending attention to detail.

I also miss the folks at the post office. I used to know them by name. These days I’m lucky if I get to the post office once or twice a month.