It’s not toiling in the salt mines, I know (actually, there are salt mines in the very Swiss valley I can see from here and I have been into them, so I know whereof I speak), but this editing stage was Hard Work. I say “was” because, hurrah and huzza, it is now over, for the time being at least.
When I last left you, I had just finished telling the story. I then spent two whole days – long days (my mind was so full of Plankish thoughts that on day one I awoke really early and was editing by 0445…) – reading what I had written. My main tasks were to make sure that the plot worked, by looking for inconsistencies, things that couldn’t have happened that way, lines of enquiry opened and then not pursued, characters being in two places at once and so on. Which meant that I had to keep the whole story in my mind at once – utterly exhausting. How authors do this with huge tomes, I cannot imagine: I struggle with 62,000 words and a fairly limited cast list to remember who did what, when and why. Yes, you can (and I do) write Post-Its and chapter summaries and the rest, but that’s only for the big plot moments and when it comes to the nitty-gritty eventually you do have to rely on your own memory kicking you and saying, “But surely she said earlier on that she didn’t like soup, and here you have her diving into the gazpacho”. (Not an actual example: Martha would not have much truck with gazpacho.)
BUT I have done it: I’ve read it all, marked it up and made the corrections. I have also put dates on every chapter – a feature of the Sam Plank novels, as he is a constable and his notebook would be carefully dated. In the end I went for the very beginning of the year, and the action lasts from 8th January to 12th April 1827. It wasn’t a spectacular year weather-wise; there was a solar eclipse in February but it was barely visible from London, so we can safely ignore that.
So where next? My husband flies out to join me this evening and I am taking a few days’ holiday. He is bringing with him a Mac disc that we hope might resurrect my nearly-dead MacBook so that I can retrieve the Missing Chapter; otherwise it will be a prompt visit to the Apple Store when I get home. When the chapter is found (or – worst case scenario – re-written), it will be slotted into the draft, and the whole thing re-read before I send it for beta reading by 19th August. (I find the setting – and indeed announcing – of deadlines to be absolutely essential for the self-published author.) Then it is in the lap of the gods – i.e. the beta readers.
Meanwhile, I shall be thinking about the book’s cover – the designer is on hols until the end of August but it’s all in the plan – and its title. (If you haven’t yet voted for your favourite, please do.) I shall be doing the other bits that I can do – such as getting permission for the cover quote, choosing the review excerpts to include in the front material and so on – and enjoying the feeling of having reached this stage. I have also, in my research for “Plank 4”, found a few interesting things that I want to include in “Plank 5”, “Plank 6” or “Plank 7”…