The First Round of Edits on I’D WALK WITH MY FRIENDS IF I COULD FIND THEM

After a wonderful, maddening, energetic, incredible two months of editing my debut novel I’D WALK WITH MY FRIENDS IF I COULD FIND THEM I have submitted an updated version to my editor of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. This being my first go-around with editing-publishing a book, a few things surprised me:

1. I felt like I was really working on the book for the first time. Even though I had submitted a manuscript that was, luckily, picked up, the relook at the book felt fresh and new. It did not seem a relook at all, but a rewrite. In many parts I was embarrassed at what I had previously submitted: perspective is a great thing! Knowing that the manuscript was a real thing, that it would most likely see the light of day, was more liberating and scary than I imagined.

2. The original submission was around 53,000 words, on the shorter side of a novel/book.  When I started the edits I felt no pressure to increase the word count, only to tap back into the characters and ensure their actions, conversations, and motivations were conveyed. I was surprised that the novel grew to 76,000 words, almost proportionally over the three main protagonists.

3. The joy of focus, of working on one project everyday, nearly all day long. I’m not complete with the edits, in fact, there may be a long way to go, but the two months of head-down reconsideration of the material felt wonderful, largely, I think, due to the focus on the one project (typically I have many things buzzing around at once).

4. I grew a mini-beard. “How writerly,” my wife said, and supported my unshaven look for a few weeks; then, “Shave now. I mean now.”

5. A constant inner voice reminding me that the only thing that mattered was the quality of the material. I hadn’t summoned the voice, but it was there, almost a daily, humble reminder.  It said, “Do you really want to write it that way?” non-stop.

6. Wondering how a book ends. Couldn’t it just go on forever? Not everyone dies, so I had to choose a point, some semblance of a conclusion, and take a deep breath.

7. That I would get involved with kickstarter, specifically, supporting the arts on kickstarter, and freaking love it.

8. That today, I would wake up, and wonder, “Should I think about the book?”

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