Every stage of writing a book is its own world, and I’ve just emerged from Editing Land. The place where my job was to fix what was broken. To clarify, condense, deepen, enhance, trim, slice, and tighten. An immensely gratifying experience, now that I’m on the other side of it, i.e., the manuscript is off my desk and in the hands of my wonderful publisher.
During the editing process, for me at least, it was more akin to someone coming into my gut and rearranging my organs. I was lucky: I got to work with an insightful editor who was able to help me bring out the best in my stories, and with one particularly stubborn story, able to see the potential when I couldn’t. For that I am extremely thankful. But still, the gut-stirring feeling continued.
The editing practice also got a little out of hand. It did not limit itself to my sentences. It spilled over into all spheres of life, and it’s a wonder the people around me are, well, still around. My critical eye started overdoing it, you see. I was looking for trouble. If only you’d do this, I said. Are you really wearing that? I asked. I was finding faults were there were none. Because a person is not the same as a story. If I edited out the quirks of the people around me, I’d be left with human shells. I love my peoples’ quirks!
Please, you guys, don’t change, and don’t go anywhere. You have to stick around and read my Acknowledgments page. It might not make up for any bad behaviour, but I think your name will look beautiful in print.
The Acknowledgments page could have become many pages long. I put the rest in a poem.
The list grows more extreme each minute.
But how not to thank the eyes that behold every word,
the hand transporting my pen across miles—miles!—of blue road,
the bent neck, the full head, the fixed hips, the slippered feet?
How to exclude the chair, the desk, the very air—don’t get me started.
This litany could go on all day. Oh! A day. Now that’s worthy of its own
ceremony. Each breath a little holiday, each movement a chance for praise.
(Is that the best word? Or is it honour, tribute, recognition, love?)
And how to leave out this blessing: the chance
to inch ever closer to meaning,
heart, brain and gut in conference to reach agreement
before a piece of me is released into the inscrutable world.