I just answered the last round of the proofreader’s queries for Sorrow’s Knot. That means the book is officially done. Barring catastrophe, I won’t change a word in it from here on out.
Wanna see what it takes for me to get to that stage? Here is the stack: notebooks with two different hand-written drafts. Computer print outs of some major typed-up drafts along the way. (Think of them as drafts 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0.) And a big old stack of index cards. Plus much coffee (not pictured), doses of emergency chocolate, and a banana-coloured teapot for scale.
When I talk to creative writing classes, I often bring the equivalent stack of drafts from Plain Kate. (It’s a bit different — fewer notebooks, more print outs.) I give them a rough idea of what I changed in each draft, and why. Of how long it took, and who helped. I don’t mean this to be intimidating — I try hard not to make it intimidating. (I am self-deprecating and point out my enormous failures, as well as the tendency of editors to butter you up for a page or so before getting to the twenty-item bulleted list of things you did wrong)
I do this because I want convey to young writers what it took me so long to learn: that the difference between wanting to be a writer, and being a writer, is mostly just finishing the darn book. And finishing the darn book involves editing. No student writer I know likes editing. But most published writers have grown to love it. You learn it secret and crafty joys.
No, really. You do.
Sorrow’s Knot is forthcoming in October!