The first major revision draft of the sequel to the Book On Submission is done. It went down a thousand words, then slowly crawled back up again, and finally topped out a little north of its original wordcount. The story line makes more sense (I am a chronic under-writer, prone to leaving gaps in the narrative like missing planks in a wooden bridge over a deep chasm of WTF). My inner editor (who sounds a lot like my agent) kept pointing out places where I'd made assumptions, or forgotten to share useful information, or just plain got confusing. I found all the places where I remember thinking, Okay. I have no fucking idea what happens next. Just write through it! which I did.
It is far, far easier to revise, even if I have major pieces moving around.
I will give it the rest of the day, and then go through it again, reading as a reader (because that's not the same as reading as a writer), and see if it holds together. I've got a self-imposed deadline of June 5 to get it to my agent. She pointed out she only gets to read it for the first time once. So it needs to be good. Or at least not in three colors, which is how I edit.
I call it skittling. I find a passage or something that might need to move, and I make it red, or blue, or whatever. Then I go to the place where I think it should go, and I splice it in. Sometimes pieces change or die. Sometimes I graft on whole new sentences or paragraphs. Then, if I think it holds together, I go back and delete the original block, leaving black prose studded with bright colors. That way, when I go through the next time, I can see where I've done major editing, and I can keep an eye out of pronouns and missing words (which I don't always catch, but that is why the gods made copy-editors).
But for now...enough. The migraine is winning. And we need to go on a cheese run. I have macaroni and cheese to make tonight (the good, old-fashioned way, which I've never actually done before).
AND I have Cixin Liu's The Three Body Problem waiting for me, too, a gift from a former Chinese international student who told me that book changed his life, and which he bought for me when he found it in English. I'm pretty psyched. I haven't read Chinese SF before (Russian, French, British, yes). So maybe I'll come home, armed with cheese, and actually read a book in the daylight for an unbroken couple of hours, on purpose, as if I were still a high school kid with time to burn, instead of squeezing out maybe 30 minutes at night before I fall asleep.
Here I sit, reading "messy first drafts" on the patio. The weather is SoCal spring-time lovely. The hummingbirds in the fig tree are buzzing around on important hummingbird business. These little tiny finch-y shaped birds, yellow and brown, are hopping around the ripening figs.
And beside me, on the doormat, naps Idris, his plastic milk ring beside him. We have been playing fetch since 10:30, on and off. He naps, I get some work done. Then he wakes up, chirps, and brings the ring to me. I can ignore this, for a time. He will wait patiently, chirping at intervals. Then he will nibble my ankle, or bite my pants. He will bring the ring closer. Bat it around my feet. Hide it under the stool, or the desk, and attack it. Bring it out here, on the patio, and pursue it around the concrete.
So we play, in 15 minute bursts, until he needs to rest. Then I get work done. Repeat. And in between, he sprawls beside me, toy nearby. When I go inside, I will whistle, and he'll come galloping after me, expecting a treat.
Nous and I think we got a dog after all, trapped in a cat's body.