I'm still editing away at my poor manuscript, of course. And still having itty bitty little freak-outs about it. And then laughing at myself, which, by the way, is the single best sanity-saving tactic I've ever discovered.
So, in the spirit of good-natured self-teasing (something I just occasionally indulge in on this blog), I'm going to post a little bit more about editing Cloudland. Also, I still can't think about anything else.
My editor sent me another batch of
Let me just repeat that: she suggested I might not need an entire scene!!!
In order to understand my panicked repetition and over-used italics, you have to understand a little not-so-well-kept secret about writers: we are word-pack-rats. Writers talk about language the way that hoarders talk about piles of boxes. Tell a writer to cut a paragraph, and she'll respond with , "NONONO WAIT! DON'T GET RID OF THAT! There might be something GOOD in there!! Let me just see..." *rifles around in manuscript* "Yeah, yeah, this sentence - this sentence is GENIUS! And this one here -" *more rifling; words fly through the air* "Oh yeah, this one is the KEY TO THE WHOLE BOOK!!"
We are language hoarders. I realize I'm over-generalizing here, but show me a writer who never minds cutting anything she's written, and I'll show you a pint-sized hippopotamus who plays the violin and sings Carmen in perfect Italian.
This is what I'm talking about when I mention that I'm murdering my darlings: it's an often-used writing expression that points out how common it is for writers to clutch their favorite paragraphs to their chests with crazed Gollum-like desperation, and how important it is to cut those buggers out of the book because they are WEIGHING IT THE HELL DOWN. I write these sections that I think are lovely and genius and perfect, and then my editor comes along and tells me they're unnecessary. And you know what? She's right. Just because something is well-written doesn't mean that it belongs in the novel.
Here's how OCD we are: many, many writers (myself included) keep files of their cut paragraphs/chapters/scenes for so-called "use in a future book". You know, like your Aunt Bertha keeps massive boxes of junk mail and catalogs just in case she ever wants to order something from Ikea. And who knows? Maybe someday I will really use something I cut, and maybe some day Bertha will buy her seventeenth All-In-One Book Organizer/Vegetable Peeler. It's possible, so all hoarding tendencies aside, I'm going to keep that damn file and hope to use something in there, some day.
Incidentally, I didn't cut the scene. Instead, I took a look at why my editor was suggesting that it was unnecessary, and realized that I hadn't written it the way that I had intended. In fact, I'd written it wrong. It sounds dramatic, but I saw that the metaphors I'd used were almost the opposite of what I was trying to express. This is a scene that takes place towards the end of the book, in the magical land in the clouds, where everything is a metaphor; using the wrong one is a pretty major mistake. It was, I think, the last scene I wrote before I finished the first draft of the book, and I was both stuck for ideas and determined to finish the draft, so you can see how I might have rushed through it just a wee bit.
Anyway, I went back to the drawing board and came up with better metaphors, and re-wrote the scene. I'm going to send it to my editor - along with the rest of the entire draft HALLELUJAH!!!!!! - shortly. We'll see if it makes the final cut.
In the meantime, I'm gritting my teeth, and laughing a lot, and committing a hell of a lot of word-murders.