This past weekend I did the proof dance. The dance comes when I finish a major writing project – my novel, “Jackson Flats,” which I hope at this point is finally finished. As I have mentioned in the past in this blog, I have been for the past several weeks (months actually) editing and proofing my novel, which happens to be my first.
If you have not been reading me (and you should make a practice of reading this blog), my novel has filed most of my time during those weeks and months. I rise in the at about 5 a.m. Such early hours are not out of plan but the result of when I go to bed, which is not early. I am late to bed because I work late rewriting, editing and proofing my novel. Once in bed I can’t sleep well because my brain is busy working overtime on the novel.
The rewriting part I hadn’t counted on. My novel, I thought, was perfect as I had it after almost two years of work. But here is where I pat myself on the back for being smart enough to join a writers group. The one I tip my ball cap to is the Carrollton Creative Writers Club (CCWC). I believe I have mentioned them previously in this blog, but they deserve all the mention they can get. They have helped me that much.
With months of writing behind it, I had my basic story for “Jackson Flats.” It takes the reader on a ride through the first three months on a new job of rookie reporter Jake Keening. Due to space constraints, here is a quick rundown: Jake is a reporter just out of college, although he is searching for a job at a large paper, he takes a position at a smaller one; it’s the only one he can find. On the job for only a few days, he runs up against the person who will be his chief foil over a long hot summer, Bobby Boyle, the chairman of the county board of commissioners. He gives Jake no end of grief, why? Because he is hiding something. A big something, which Jake eventually uncovers. Also, Jake engages in some romance along the way. It is an fascinating read, if do say so. It is written in the language of the day and aims for the heart.
Over two years, I had mapped out that basic structure, and I thought I did have an very readable book, but it took my buddies in the CCWC to show me the true path.
Readings from our compositions during our meetings is an honored tradition with CCWC members. Having mustered the courage to read mine, I was somewhat chagrined no one thought it the greatest novel ever. Once I got past that shock, I discovered the feedback I received had great merit, and I began rewriting with positive suggestions in mind. I’m not a glutton for punishment and I would rather not rewrite, but I knew the suggestions were pointing the way I wanted to go with the book. I was right. The more I rewrote, the better the novel. I continued in that mode over the past several months. It wasn’t easy, I felt like giving up many times.
But, hey, I didn’t, and I’m glad I did not. Near the end, when I thought all was cool, I handed my manuscript over to others in the group for some final reviews, and discovered, per several suggestions, more rewriting – of certain passages –and editing were needed. This led to additional soul searching. “Why not just turn it in as is and be done with it,” I thought. “I’ve spent too much time on this already. Just see it as a learning experience and move on.”
However, my better writing angels took over, and I did what was suggested — I didn’t take all suggestions, but saw many of them as beneficial – and rewrote and edited and rewrote and edited. Then, ta da! I had what I think is a winner. But I owe it all to my friends in the CCWC.