Ahh, book club…where the conversation is often about anything but books. God bless this month’s host who on three occasions tried to re-route the discussion back to her selection. It was Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.’ The general consensus was that the first chapter was great. After that – ehh. I confess that I never got around to reading any of it, but based on the underwhelming reviews it looks like I picked a good month to be lazy.
But, I digress.
I am a lone wolf in the midst of my book club in that I read and liked Fifty Shades of Grey. Insert the eye-rolling, gasps, blushes, giggles and general disgust that follows whenever I mention it or whenever someone teases me for it. But something tells me that if we’d read Fifty Shades of Grey the conversation would have happily revolved around discussion of the book for more than two obligatory minutes.
Don’t get me wrong. I like great literature. I’m currently studying philosophy. In short, I’m no idiot. But, I like variety. I like fun, and Fifty Shades of Grey is a whole lot of fun.
I don’t think that it or anything in its genre will ever make it through our book club voting process, though. Too bad. Guess I’ll have to keep going to the amusement park on my own.
There aren’t too many undeniable truths in this world, but one is that people complain too much. Sometimes it’s overtly negative, but it’s the habitual downtrodden exchange that bothers me the most. Just think about your routine conversations.
How are you doing? Could be better.
What’s for dinner? Don’t care as long as I don’t have to make it.
How’s your day going? Okay. I’m just glad it’s almost over.
How was your Christmas? Busy.
Any plans for the weekend? Ugh. My son’s soccer game, yard work, church….
Is it every going to stop raining? God I hope so.
See what I mean?
I don’t intend to imply that I’m above this way of thinking and conversing. Sadly, I fall prey to it like everyone else. But I’ve started noticing it more. I’ve started wondering why we all accept, like drones, that being busy is inherently bad, that going to work is inherently bad, that having to make dinner is inherently bad, that rainy weather is inherently bad.
It’s the dialogue that’s bad.
Those of us who write can appreciate how important words are – how important dialogue is. Dialogue can make or break a novel, and we drive ourselves crazy trying to perfect it. So, why not apply that same devotion to our own dialogue?
You might be surprised to see that a rainy day looks a whole lot better if you instead think and say, “What a nice day it’s turning out to be.”
Well, there’s no putting it off any longer. I’ve written my book. I’ve had family and friends review it, and I’ve applied their suggestions. I’ve done two revisions of my own. I’m talking basic stuff, you understand – grammar, dropped commas, sentence rewording. The stuff that counts as editing but just barely.
Now I’ve got to really look at the book critically, consider all of the feedback that I’ve received, and then…well, that’s the problem. I don’t know what to do next. I don’t know how to edit a book! Do I just make the few big changes that I’ve got in mind and call it a day? Do I scour the entire book for any problem that might exist, and if so where to begin? I could tear the whole thing apart if I really got nit-picky, but that seems like a dangerous road to go down.
This feeling is familiar territory for me because I faced it when I wrote my first book ten years ago. And, where does that book sit now? On my computer in its unedited state. I was too overwhelmed by the idea of improving it. It reminds me of my recent blog post, Lose the Clutter, where I suggest that editing should happen along the way. I do think that I improved on that point this time around, but I’m still freaked out.
Well, this book’s not going to sit untouched in my computer for a decade, dammit. I’ve promised myself to make a serious effort with it in January, and hopefully by March or April I’ll be about ready to submit to agents.
Now could someone out there just cross their fingers for me? Even better, if you’ve got advice from your own editing trials and tribulations, please share!