Writer’s Silence

Boloblog: You've been gone awhile. Can you tell us the cause of your writer's silence? Ignatius: I've experienced an unusual bout of creative inactivity outside the novel, meaning that once I put my finished manuscript aside in early spring, I seemed unable to stay creative in other tasks not related to writing. I’m not sure why this was so, although I simply caved in to my situation and did a lot of reading, often picking up three to four books at a time. I had a quiet and silent summer, and a revisit to the grammar closet. Meanwhile, my manuscript remained as a first draft and really demanded a serious edit, which I seemed apprehensive about taking on. But at the end of summer, I woke up suddenly from my reverie and read the novel from start to finish, and then I began a patient line-by-line edit of copy, grammar, characterization, and storyline. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and gratifying experience, but I was whipped at the end of it all. Boloblog: Why were you apprehensive about editing the manuscript in the first place? Ignatius: I’ve always perceived editing a bit differently than I do writing. Editing is a more careful and measured process; whereas, I felt no pressure or need to exercise diligence when writing the novel—I just wrote the story while following a chapter-by-chapter outline that I had worked on earlier, paying more attention to the cadence of my prose and nourishing the story as and when I thought fit, sometimes moving the story sideways and bringing it back to the center. Editing is different – you have to shift gears altogether and become more critical of your own words, which is somewhat hard for me to do and which, I believe, may be difficult for many writers. That’s why we have Editors and Copy Editors, but the author also behaves as a kind of home Editor initially. Anyway, my novel just stayed behind the fence through the summer, like a neighbor’s dog that I did not know how to befriend. Here, I’d have to add that book editing is a richer and more significant task. Boloblog: In your words, how do you tell the difference between an Editor and a Copy Editor? Ignatius: An Editor takes a bird’s eye view of the content and style, making sweeping general edits as they apply and, if necessary, closer and tighter edits; but it’s the Copy Editor’s job to watch the line-by-line, and grammar and punctuation issues. There’s much more to this, although I’m simplifying it here. Boloblog: Have you finished editing your novel then? Ignatius: Yes, I have, and that was a lot of work, both mentally and physically. But an agent I’ve been in touch with asked for the manuscript, and I was glad to E-mail the file attachment to her a few weeks ago. I’m waiting for the good news. Boloblog: Did you see the novel change during your edit, or has it stayed true to your original vision? Ignatius: I’ll begin by saying that the original manuscript contained about 650 pages when I was done with it. By the time I finished editing the double-spaced story, I had whittled it down to 415 pages, about 122, 500 words. I’d found a lot of typos, too. My word processing software kept doing this really annoying thing, where it refused to check spelling as the novel increased in size. I don’t know where it actually stopped checking, but by the time I had reached three or four hundred pages, I had to fend for myself and decided to face all that when I’d completed the story. My biggest change was the ending and the way in which I’d approached the ending. For the most part, however, the story stayed true to my original outline.