Apr 19, 2011

Author, Edit Thyself!

An old roommate of mine once engaged me in a conversation wherein he was very serious about wanting to go back to high school and live it again. Like, not in just a subjective "what if" scenario, but he actually literally, seriously, wanted a do-over. I initially entertained the notion; in a purely philosophical examination, how we review our own history is a fascinating conceptual revelation as to how we see ourselves and look at the world in the present.

It's like that old adage, that history is written by the victors. Well, I believe that can be applied to ourselves and our "remembered" pasts. Kind of a curiosity, isn't it? What does how we remember our own past say about who we are?

In the case of my roommate, he, as a then-twenty-something, looked back on his high school life as a bit of a failure, riddled with missed opportunities and "almost was" moments. Granted, I thought he took the concept a bit far in that he wanted to not so much turn back time as just go back to high school as a twenty-something and go a couple of years under the guise of being a high school-age student. The legal ramifications of potentially dating classmates far below the age of consent aside, I eventually saw a few layers of flawed logic to his arguments, dismissing the entire concept under the reality of living in the now and not allowing the past to govern the future, etc.

Because, the truth is that you can't go back and change the choices you made, once upon a time, right?

Well, that's where I love editing.

Writing books - especially under the present technological opportunities afforded authors now - is so much more instantaneous and liberating than it once was; or, I suppose, for some, still is.

When I was recording "Obsidian Bridges", I was hampered by the constraints of affordable studio time and just the premise of analog recording. When you're laying down tracks and don't have your own studio or unlimited time to spend there, it seems like there inevitably comes a point at which you must make a sort of Sophie's Choice of takes where, combined within a surgically inalterable sequence of notes, both statistically impossible good and bad notes exist. And you have to ask yourself, "do I erase that and try to nail it all again, or do I live with the one bad note?"

I got to that point on one song - "All Along", a track which appears on the original CD print, but not on the newer MP3 download album offered on Amazon (woo hoo! Blatant plug!) and decided I could live with that. Well, turns out, ten years later, I can't. I don't even like LISTENING to that track anymore, because I can hear the bad notes. *sigh*

With publishing, that has ceased to be a concern.

I got book 5 - "Into the Blink" - back from Quiana, my editor, last week, and, giving myself one day to take a deep breath, jumped in and reviewed/corrected over the next three days. Finished up the edit on Sunday, and sent it back for another (final?) review. Made a few additional changes, such as chapter sequences, and I'm going to have to revisit the opening paragraph, which still isn't quite where I want it.

And I'm also working on the cover, which is "close but no cigar" level, and I may just dump it up and run a proof to help with the review process (I seem to catch my typos and work choice issues better on paper, don't know why that is), but, pending changes....I mean, the book could be available for purchase in a couple weeks, outside guess. And, thanks to the online submission process, if I find any errors after that, I can simply make the corrections and upload the new document, and voila - done!

The traditional publishing model sees books being announced - cover art, etc - months in advance of actual sales. I understand that much of that has to do with the release schedules of other books, the constraints of distribution, etc.... but honestly, I like the fact that I can get my books out there as soon as I can get them written and edited. I like being able to go back and make corrections - - - like, for example, the choice to redesign my trilogy into a six-book series. The whole process took me less than a month to break out 2 books into 4, covers and all.

But to be honest, I love the stressless mindset that comes from the peaceful knowledge that I can make the books look however I feel they need to look. I don't have to feel like some arbitrary requirement is being placed upon them or upon me, or that I, due to some larger body's marketing expectations, am forced to put up a sub-standard product just in time to make the Christmas present shopping season.

The fact is, I'm writing books. I'm telling stories. The process, though somewhat structured, is still relatively organic, and I can't help but wonder if the loss of that organic quality is where a lot of authors find themselves struggling. Dunno.

The honest truth is that I'm probably not as meshed into that scene to really make a judgment on it. And, strangely enough, I'm kind of okay with that.

I'm out. More to do. Chat later.

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