Hoarders: The Book Version

Monday, November 19, 2012

When I began writing my novel I wasn't entirely sure what I planned to do with it. It wasn't like I had some big mapped out plan for the future. In reality, I never actually thought I'd finish it. (Yep, I'm that doubtful of my ability to follow through.)

In the end, I obviously finished, but I had no idea what to do with it. For one thing it was 500 PAGES! Holy shit! That's a lot! 

This is when I turned it over to my husband and my good friend, Jason. Jason will read anything. BJ isn't as easy to please. So both of them read the unedited, extremely long, and in my opinion, pretty craptacular version of my book.

Everyone has seen the television show Hoarders or at least some version of it. If not, here it is in condensed form: Grown ass adults stash as much shit in their homes as possible until it nearly bursts. 

This is what happened with my novel. I was so focused on getting my thoughts down that I failed to sensor or edit anything I typed. I was like a machine—dead set on getting every small idea down in my novel. Even if these ideas scarcely related to my writing. 

What happened next was even worse. BJ kindly informed me that I needed to cut it down. It was ridiculously long.  (I knew this, but admitting I had a problem was hard.)  In my mind it came out more like this, "You suck!  Who is going to read your 500 page novel?"  How dare he? Doesn't he know how hard I worked on this? Doesn't he understand the effort? All those nights I spent slaving away at the computer with a bag of York Peppermint Patties!

After I got over it and realized how right he was, I sat down to eliminate all my hard work.  Yet  I couldn't do it.  I couldn't delete a single word.

News Flash:  I had become a hoarder.  Not literally a hoarder, but a word hoarder.  My novel had become like the house of a hoarder.  It was filled with twenty year old news papers, moldy milk cartons, puffy yogurt containers and possibly a dead cat buried somewhere under the rubble.  At least 200 pages of my book were like the things I listed.  Useless.  But I had a connection to them and I couldn't just go all willy nilly deleting at random.  I loved these words.  I gave birth to them.

I came to my senses and slowly began to edit down my nonsensical gibberish.  (You want to know a secret?  I still couldn't just straight up delete them, so I used the track changes on MS Word and saved everything I deleted.  Soon I will break up with all those pointless sentences.  But until then, they will sit quietly in the margins of my book.)

Even after a full edit of at least 30,000 words, my book, in my opinion, is still too long.  This is where my beta readers come in.  Hopefully they will have some insight to all the useless, random thoughts that still linger within my book.  Let's hope I take their criticism better than I took BJ's.

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