Editing Adventures Deux: Missing Bits Again

Today I got up a little earlier than yesterday’s excursion to the British Library, and actually managed to get a seat in the interior cafe instead of being relegated to the quiet little box outside. There I listened to Allegri, Mussorsky, Tavener, Beethoven, Holst, Alleyne-Johnson, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, skipped over Debussey and Mahler with an angry mutter about them being on my playlist in the first place, and also the Red Army Choir singing the Soviet National Anthem because why the hell not, and in so doing managed to squeeze out the last of the missing chapters for Brown Bread Boys.

Technically this means I have completed the second draft. This would be a roaring victory, except it means I now have to go through and do line edits: i.e. read through the bally thing again and find all the places I don’t like my phrasing and rewrite them so that they sound less torturous and more naturalistic. Or sound less naturalistic and more torturous, depending on the desired effect. But the important thing is I don’t have to do that today because I just wrote a chapter and that means I have done my bit for Friday.

No part of the process of writing a book strikes me as so irresistibly fun that I can understand my past self’s determination that this was the profession she wanted (fifteen year old me wanted to be a writer, have a tall blond boyfriend, and not live in Devon: measured by the scale of my fifteen-year-old ambitions I am a successful member of society. It’s a pity that neither thirty-year-old me nor said society agree); research is a nuisance, plotting has its moments of triumph but usually devolves into swearing because the four-dimensional jigsaw puzzle you are attempting to assemble in absence of any instructions is not working, writing is a slog wherein your entire vocabulary deserts you and even dust motes become fascinating distractions, rewrites are torture, line edits are boring, proof-reading is the nadir of human existence, and type-setting, self-promotion, and so on – the things that house-published authors don’t have to care about – are tedious, tedious, and embarrassing.

If it actually paidthough, it would be better than even being a rabbit-stroker for a living.

Brown Bread Boys is a contemporary retelling-ish of Julius Caesar set in criminal London, with blood magic, plot deviation, and some of my better female protagonists, and it is not as bad as my perpetual complaining makes it sound. I promise.

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