June 8th, 2012
Since I got my editorial notes from my editor Abby Zidle at Simon and Schuster a couple of weeks ago, I have been working hard on making the fixes that were proposed. None of these was very significant in terms of the story; it was more a question of highlighting things that were important but had a fairly muted presence, as things stood. I keep before me - I think it was Auden, who said - "Kill your darlings." Very good advice but very hard to do. But I killed off quite a few darlings, re-wrote other chapters, added new material.
I look at it as a sculptor might. Your story at first is a block of granite, and you just have to keep going back to it and fine-tuning, getting those features sharper so that the image you had in your brain to start with is what the viewer sees. From a big block of marble, you're getting closer and closer to your David. I feel good about what my hard work accomplished - the balance wasn't quite right before, and now it feels better in the hands, the weight of this as opposed to the weight of that, all working towards a cohesive whole. I feel like I pulled out (for view) my heroine's emotions more, so that the choice she has to make at the end of the book is heart-wrenching for the reader, too. I will make another run at it after a day or two's break (just to get some distance) and see how it looks to me then. I'll tie up some loose ends and do some last minute tweaking before I send it back in to my editor.
After that, she tells me, and depending on whether she feels this new revision has addressed the problems she was having, it will either come back to me for another run through, or she will start the process of line-editing - so, nothing substantive, just pointing out uneasy transitions, that kind of thing, all sentence-level stuff. I had a question for her about the two foreign languages I use in the book - who's going to check those? Turns out, I'm responsible for making sure I get those right, so I'll have to run my Gaelic and Latin phrases past some experts in the field. I would be so embarrassed if the book got published with those kind of errors - I wouldn't be taken seriously in Scotland if my Gaelic wasn't up to snuff.
After line-editing comes copy-editing (for grammar and spelling) and proof reading,then type-setting. I will at this point start getting whole actual pages to look at.
And then there's the on-going question of title. My editor says her superiors are telling her we need it NOW. So, we had toyed with "Circle of Dreams," but that got rejected for being too "squishy," too "Fleetwood Mac." Don't quite get that reference. The next one she is going to run by them is "The Veil of Time." And here's something that completely floored me (being new to this game) - it turns out that Barnes and Noble and Amazon both have a say (not just a small voice, but a considerable one) in the title of a book and in the cover art. That had never even occurred to me, but I guess this is a business, and what the title turns out to be might determine how many books either one of these mega booksellers buys to put on their shelf. Or so the argument goes.
I talked to my agent about it this morning. He says he's going to fight hard for a classy cover for my book, and I hope he's right. He pointed out that the cover art can put its own slant on the title. So, a woman in a veil (God forbid) would create the image of a wholly different book than a nice landscape of the area.
At this point, I feel a bit like I'm being backed into a corner. This is what the term "has you by the goolies" is all about, and if I had goolies I'd know what that means right now.