The Developmental Edit
Today is my birthday. It was also the initial due date for my developmental edit. As a birthday/Christmas present to myself and my family, I finished the second draft a week early. And, it was one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life. Novel writing is the long distance running of careers. You have to maintain a pace and get to the finish line, which is typically months, if not years, away. People take a year or more to pen a first novel. It then takes months–if not a year–to secure an agent and several months to secure a publisher. (Obviously, some books never do. But I learned from the experience of NOT getting an agent for a few novels in drawers that it takes about a year to give up on them too and start something else). If you have a publisher and a contract for a next book, you still have six to eight months or so from the publication of the last novel to the delivery of the next one. However, writing becomes a sprint during the editing process. I got back my latest novel from my editors on December 3rd. I had until today to add fifteen to twenty thousand words to it (some parts were cut during the initial edit), make my protagonist have more agency, add a few more red herrings (can’t add all those words without new twists and turns), change some personality characteristics about another character, and rejigger a pretty significant plot point. I finished the rewrite on Monday December 19th. Sixteen days from when I first received the novel back. It took me a day to just digest the editorial letter and my kids were out of school for three days during that time period (I am a stay at home mom, sans babysitting). But I knew I had to finish it then because my daughter’s birthday is on the 22nd and I was hosting Christmas and a party for her. And, I needed a day to shop for Christmas and birthday presents, wrap them, and make the house look festive because it’s the holidays, darn it! I finished the developmental edit by working the six hours when my kids were in school and then, after putting them to bed, working another six hours until 3:30 in the morning for two weeks. But, I did it. And I got to spend the whole holiday week planning in-class Christmas parties, baking with my kids, taking care of one kid who got a stomach bug, writing Christmas cards and making my daughter’s 5th birthday pretty cool. So, I am feeling pretty awesome on my birthday today. Turns out that I can run fast when I need to.