Pass the machete, please

My wonderful editor has done a thorough read-through of my book. As a result of her generous, perceptive, brave, loving comments, I’ve cut the equivalent of two whole chapters. That’s right, slashed and down the toilet. 

Don’t worry — you won’t miss them. The book was too darned long anyway, and now it’s down to a reasonable size. But the main reason I removed so much was because I learned to make a vital distinction between necessary criticism and gratuitous criticism. What I mean by necessary criticism is that there are situations in my story where I couldn’t gloss over some negative things about another person (don’t want to let the cat out of the bag here!), because these perceptions really added to the book and revealed something important about me and my life.

But then there’s gratuitous criticism: the parts where I simply “got off” on somebody because they rubbed me the wrong way or whatever. My grousing really didn’t add anything to the story line, so what’s the point?

My editor also pointed out that the book was more interesting and flowed better when I was writing about things from the more distant, rather than the more recent past. She felt that the newer situations could easily be left out of the book, and it would be better to leave them out because I might very well feel quite differently about them a few years from now (do I feel a sequel coming on?) and even regret something that I’d said. I say amen to that.

So now I’m in the middle of another read-through and still catching some of those unnecessary little digs, along with some other things that needed either embellishment or the opposite. When I’m done I’ll send it back to my editor for a final read-through while I pick out some photos that I think would add to the story.

Sometimes I think wow, is this really gonna happen? It’s starting to look like it is!



Filed under the book

6 responses to “Pass the machete, please

  1. breakoutofthemold

    Getting closer! Congrats!!!

  2. Muriel Vasconcellos

    You’re on the home stretch, Amy! Congratulations!!

  3. This is where I think the editing process is so critical. And except for the ability to go back and edit, points to a potential blogging weak spot. Everything we communicate leaves a trace. It either teaches or it burdens. There isn’t really an in-between.

    I remember the long, long editing process of some of my earlier writings. I often wrote about things that were still farm-fresh in my experience. So fresh that they sometimes like the manure pile in a barn. I would see and write things that, in time, would take on a completely different color and context in my “life story”. I thank, from me knees, those editors who saved me from etching in stone, (or allowing thousands of copies go to print, recounting) personal details that would serve no one else in the long run. Bravo, Amy! You are bravely, brave, to write, and cut, and in the end give us the best of your experience to learn from! (I need an editor for this post!)

    • No you don’t need an editor for that post! Excellent Michelle…I love this: “Everything we communicate leaves a trace. It either teaches or it burdens. There isn’t really an in-between.”
      And believe me, some of that stuff I wrote actually smelled like a pile of new manure! 😀

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