When you get done reading this, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page and take a look at my ACFW badge. Yes, as a member of ACFW, I earn this badge to display on my blog or website when I complete a manuscript of at least 50,000 words(mine was 103,000 before edits - huh, maybe I should of divided it into two books and got two of these cool badges). To most people it looks like a jpeg image of an ink well. To me it signifies countless hours of thinking, planning, writing and writing some more (that's how I earned my NovelTrack badge over to the right:). But, lest you begin to feel too sorry for me, I must confess what delightful, fun, intriguing, well spent hours those are! Ooooooh - I love it! (writing - not the badge so much) I would rather write than clean my house (perfectly obvious). I would rather write than go out to eat. (don't believe me ask my husband). I would rather write than go on vacation (go ahead - ask me what I did on my week of vacation last summer - NOT the firework stand week!!, the other one.) I would rather write than go to work (no such luck - I have to earn those two weeks of vacation).
Back to the story. When I finally reached the end of that book I experienced an odd thought. To a writer, 'The End' is not the end. It is only the beginning. Once that whole plot, theme and characterization thing is there on the screen in black and write, my work has only started. First come the read through edits, correcting miles upon miles of typos, misspellings, forgotten quote marks, maybe even adding a comma or two. Usually takes at least two of those read throughs to catch most things. Then, during the read through edits, I begin to get weird ideas like "Is that what I wrote? I thought it would sound different." or, "Hmmm. Wouldn't this read better if I did it this way instead of that way?" Maybe even, "What is Chapter Two doing there after Chapter One? That should be back at Chapter 23!"
And so begins the 'real work'. Countless hours of editing, polishing, re-editing, changing, undoing, redoing. reading, and rereading. And let's don't forget those pesky writer's rules I didn't even know existed until after I'd already written several books. No passives, show-not-tell, no info dumps, no buried dialogue, sparing use of lys,and the list goes on and on. Oh well - rules were pretty much made to be broken, I figure.
And my least favorite of all the after-the-end-tasks, the dreaded cutting. I mentioned this book had over 103,000 words (Notice my no-no use of the passive "had") To put this in perspective, my first book was 57,000 words. I added to it to get up to about 75,000 which is a much more acceptable length by industry standards. A book you buy in the bookstore must be long enough that the reader doesn't feel cheated, yet short enough that the paper, ink, time, etc that goes into the production of said book does not cross the lines between profit and no-profit for a publishing house. If you think adding to a book sounds difficult, you have no idea what difficult is until you start to talk about cutting. Cutting? What's that? No way! This is my baby! Every word of those 103,000 is a total gem and I couldn't possibly cut anything. Oh, ouch! No! not THAT scene! It's pivotal to the whole book - but so is that one and that one too. I hate cutting. I'm not good at it. It's painful. I have a file on my computer where I actually store my cuts because they are so brilliantly done I could never come up with something like that again. "Delete" is much too strong a word for my precious cuts.
Well, Ok, this isn't really the point of this blog (which I don't plan to cut - sorry). The actual point I wanted to make is this. How often in our daily lives do we think we've written 'The End' and just nonchalantly go on to the next thing? Do you ever sit in church and wish the pastor would get done so church would be over? (I've NEVER done that, Todd!) Do you read your scriptures in the morning, consider that done and close the Bible for the rest of the day? Do you throw a quarter in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas and figure you've 'fed the hungry' for another year? Well, let me burst your bubble. Our work is never done. When we leave the church building on Sunday morning, that is only the beginning of our work in the lives of others we will encounter that week. When you close the covers of your Bible, that scripture you read should be available for the rest of the world to read in your life and in your heart. When you feed a hungry person for a day, they are hungry again the next day. Just small examples, but you get what I mean. Don't ever settle for writing 'The End' on the work God gives you to do then go on about your life. Keep your heart open to whatever He asks you to do, whenever He asks you to do it. Remember, He's still editing on you!