Art by Winnie Truong
This post is dedicated to all editors out there, the magnificent people who have the talent to shape the fragile mess of words they receive from writers into something beautiful and yet still FUCKING FRAGILE AND MESSY the way it originally was. And when you look at it, at what they do, you scratch your head and wonder how the hell they do it. Or maybe you don't. Maybe you take it for granted. I know I did. Until last week. I thought, "Hey, that's what they're good at. That's what editors do. It's their job." I didn't know how hard it was until I tried it on my own.
This week I have received from Sarah the final condensed manuscript for Siren Suicides. What she did was squeeze 3 books (262K words) into 1 book (88K words) by doing magic cutting and stitching and reorganizing and yet keeping the story intact. I was elated. I dug into reading it as soon as I could. And guess what happened. I got so disgusted with my old writing that at first I rewrote a sentence. Then a paragraph. Then a whole page. Then I ended up spending a whole day on rewriting 6 first pages by mercilessly lopping off chunks of descriptions and dialogue and exposition and just plain butchering the thing till what I had left was clean gleaming bones. I polished the bones somewhat. When they were shining I was satisfied at last. I intended to do the same for the rest of the thing which at the rate of 6 pages a day would've taken me 55 days to finish which would've put my writing schedule on hold and instead of starting TUBE, Draft 3 in January I would've started it in March. I got gloomy thoughts on shooting myself with a Kalashnikov because, frankly, I didn't want to do this. I'm good at making myself do things I don't like, BUT I AM SO DONE WITH THIS STORY I DON'T WANT TO TOUCH IT.