I’ve driven exactly one high end sports car in my life. It was a mid 80’s Porsche something or other. It was red, it was a five speed, and it was fast. I drove it exactly 10 miles on a errand for a friend of mine and it was probably the funnest 10 miles I have ever had driving in my life. As I sped (never going above the posted speed limit) down the windy country road the car handled as if on rails. It leaned into each corner and shot itself back onto the straights as if being thrust out of a high powered cannon. Even when the car sat idle in the parking lot as my friend ran his errand I felt cool. People going about their daily business slowed down and stared at the young 20 something sitting behind the wheel of a sports car. As the people stared I simply adjusted my sunglasses and gave a nonchalant head nod back, acting as if I was in fact cool enough to occupy this car.
Writing a novel is lot like driving a Porsche. The process in and of itself is fun. It is one full of twists and turns. Your in complete control of the creative process. You are directing the characters in your story, deciding who they are, who they will become and even what they will have for breakfast. People are drawn to the writing process, just like they are drawn to sports cars sitting in parking lots. Even distant acquaintances will come over and strike up a conversation with you when they catch word you are writing a novel. There is a mystique about the process and it draws people in like a Porsche sitting in a parking lot.
If the writing is like driving a Porsche, editing, on the other hand, is like driving a mini van and I’m not talking about one of those new fangled mini vans with under seat storage and a built in movie theater. No sir, the mini van I’m referring to is rusted out wood panel mid 90’s model that is full of screaming kids and smells of stale drive through and the gas of passed burritos. People leave you alone when you’re editing, just like they leave you alone when driving a rusted out mini van. Oh sure you may get a passing glance from someone walking by, but gone are the days of conversations with strangers and nonchalant head nods from behind a pair of Ray Bans.
When you start editing you feel that the story is now driving you. You have a van full of kids each with it’s own stop to make and all along the way they are fighting each other. They cross imaginary lines in the back and make you take on a UN Peacekeepers role to restore the peace that was lost. Not unlike when one dons the editing hat and tries to separate out two subplots in a novel, subplots where at the time they were written were both fantastic ideas, but somewhere in the story they crossed paths and now they sit in direct conflict. Put on the blue helmet and grab the red pen.
Then there’s the whole who needs to go where problem. When one drives a van full of children to all of their various activities it is imperative to remember who gets out where and who gets picked up when. Don’t want to leave a wee one at dance or karate now do we. Same thing happens when editing. You now have to remember all of those characters you created, when they came into the story, their backstory and so and so forth.
In my own writing career I’ve spent more time driving the Porsche than the mini van and I hate to admit but I think I need to grab the keys to the Chrysler and hit the road. I have on my desk a completed manuscript in need of edits. It’s a mini van full of children waiting to be driven around town. There are characters who need to be dropped off at dance and then there is the main character I left in the woods, (probably should have wrapped that up a little better). So with this in mind, I’m taking the battery out of the Porsche, putting it under a cover and tucking it in the garage for a while. There is a small tear running down my cheek as I type this, I really love my metaphorical Porsche after all.
In the upcoming months I’ll be publishing the edited chapters of my second novel (working title “Forgive me Father”) on my blog. I’ll plan on publishing a chapter or two a week for my readers to enjoy. These won’t be the final edited chapters mind you, so you’ll have to forgive an errant spelling mistake or two, but the story I have written is one that desperately needs to be told so starting next week look for the first installment of Forgive Me Father.
I have decided, however, that if I’m driving a stinky mini van full of screaming metaphorical children for the near future. I’m at least buying an air freshener. Wish me luck.