I shared with you that Terrebonne Parish is not finished yet, and that is true; but perhaps I should explain. Do not think that “not finished yet” means this book does not have a beginning and an end. Nothing could be further from the truth. It simply means this book is still developing, and until this book goes to publication it will continue to develop. That’s what is so great about the process. Until a book is printed in black and white, married with a beautiful leather-bound cover (or paperback, as the case might likely be) nothing is certain. Nothing is permanent. As a writer, until that moment, it is still your baby . . . and yours alone. Not until a writer shares it with the world does it have to be called “finished.”
For example, there was a time I thought my book was finished. Complete. Finito! Then, I started letting family read the book. That’s when I started getting feedback. Suggestions. Comments. Questions. That’s also when I started having doubts. I mean, here was this book that I was sooo proud of, that I had envisioned as a bestseller and even a movie (dream big, I say); but others were not seeing it. I started wondering how the story could not suck them in the way it had me. How could they not go to bed with these characters in their minds and dream of them each night as I had?
I put the book away, disheartened. This will be the book they find and publish years after I’m dead and gone, and it will become timeless, I thought.
The book sat in its hiding nook for several months, until one day I took it out and began reading it again. After months of disassociating with it, I began reading with new eyes; and the answer to why nobody saw what I saw was simple: I had not written it. I had seen so many things in my mind, but I had not described them. I had felt so many things in my heart, but had not shared them. My characters were all there and the story line was superb; but I had not done my job as a writer to relay the character’s feelings . . . their thoughts . . . their world.
I began filling in the blanks, detailing the smallest things like what Grams speckled hands looked like when she laid them in her silk lap. I began verbalizing thoughts each character had, and I even wrote the thoughts they refused to verbalize. My story began to come alive! I was finally telling the story I thought I had already told. Finally, I had it right! I once again opened the book’s pages for friends and family to read; and the awe began . . . the praises began . . . and my self-confidence returned.
Then I got an editor, only to discover the book was still not complete. And so the viscous cycle began again. Early in the book (I mean, early) my editor insisted that I add a new character. I adamantly explained why the character she asked for did not exist, and she (just as adamantly) explained why the character had to exist. So I began to create a character, which is (ironically) not in my character to do because I believe characters already exist and simply present themselves when they’re ready for their story to be told. Anyway, I drafted a character outline, looked for other places in the book where the character might reappear and began to incorporate the character where necessary. And just as I began to fall in with my new character (and my editor read further into the book), my editor informed me that I was right after all, and I did not need the character. (sigh)
I added the character anyway. (smirk)
I would like to share with you which character I am referring to, and someday I will; but as it turns out the character became quite significant I will keep hush for now. Besides, I already gave you a clue.
So that was my first experience with an editor. I loved her . . . I love her still, but we broke up not nearly halfway through the book — which brought back self-doubt and questions about my writing ability. Did I really have a gift for writing or was I forcing it because I once wrote a poem in third grade that everyone raved about?
I should say that my editor broke up with me, not vice versa. There was no big dispute; just that she was too busy to continue with the project. Nonetheless, I began to wonder: If my book was as great as I thought it was, how could someone just walk away without finishing it? I wanted a book that people couldn’t put down.
So began my search for a new editor. To find out more about the process of finding an editor: how to find one, what to look for, where to look; subscribe to my newsletter by typing your email in the space available on the screen to the right, then clicking “Join.”
But for now, suffice it to say I was in no hurry to find a new editor. The process of being edited and then rewriting the book was more time consuming than I had expected, and having one full time job and one part time job besides proved difficult. I DO have a new editor — my second and hopefully last — but if you are a writer reading this, don’t be discouraged if you are on your third or fourth editor; it’s a complicated relationship.
So with a new editor and the process still to share with the world, let us continue . . .