Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Julia of the 20 pages… or

I love words, books, libraries and anything to do with editing.

I vaguely recall first proofreading one of my housemate’s books – way back when. By the time I was doing the second one, I asked if she would mind my editing bits of it: the reply “by all means”. I would never make a good writer as I tend to think that anything that I have put into words and on paper (or in the computer as the case may be) is perfect as is: Donna-Lane Nelson has meanwhile published 9 books with more in the works and has sometimes re-written so many times that the original plot has even changed.  For a full listing of her novels, her biography, writing exercises, etc.

I have had a very small glimpse into how difficult it is to first write a novel, then polish it, then publish it: believe me they earn every (very small unless you are a world-renowned author like J.K.Rowling) penny they receive!

So how did I get to be “Julia of the 20 pages” ?

Well, once I was added as “her” (unofficial) editor, I found that when she handed me 280 pages of a new manuscript that it was too daunting to think of doing it all. I would start and usually had time enough to do 5 or so pages, but that wasn’t enough to get it done in an reasonable amount of time so I, through trial and error, discovered that 20 pages a day was about right: enough to feel like I had accomplished something – and to keep the plot in mind as the chapters are intermingled, historical for one, then perhaps two of the modern plot, another historical, etc. When there are three different plots going, it becomes even more of a challenge, but again, roughly 20 pages a day allows me to do a decent job and get it done within a few weeks.

I am currently editing another Third Culture Kid novel, set in Switzerland in one of the oldest cantons, there where it all started in 1291. It has the makings of all good mysteries: family dissent, lazy sons, interested-but-shoved-to-the-side daughters, the past, which leads to the future. On top of that, this one will have cookies – the eatable kind, not the mess-with-your-computer-kind!

But I digress: I haven't done my 20 pages yet today.