The manuscript of Dancing Between the Beats is back in my hands. It spent July through September with Joshua Cochran: published author, poet, and current head of the English department at Pima Community College (PCC). He read through most of the draft for a general developmental/content edit. His input was, as expected, invaluable.
As I work through Joshua's notations, I find everything from a confidence-boosting “wow” in the margins, to “ground us in setting”, “refine delivery”, and even few eagle-eye line edits. I am paying attention to all. He also pointed out that I overused the word just. I think overused is a gentle understatement. When I searched the document, I found 533 iterations of just. If I use this word in speech as often as I did in the draft of my novel, you have my permission to slap me the next time you hear it coming out of my mouth.
Between input from Joshua Cochran and in-depth critiques from my writing group, Vista Writers, the hard work of revision can now seriously begin. I'm still working through line edits before delving deeper. Next will be the more time-intensive process of major revisions: grounding the reader in setting, tightening the tension, using more internal dialogue to add depth to characters, and killing my darlings (as per William Faulkner). I’ve created a revision outline to help me stay on track and plan to stock up on coffee.
The hardest part of the revision process is the self-discipline involved. I'm anything but a person of routine, but to tackle the task on hand, I will have to set a writing schedule and avoid distractions. Did anyone say squirrel?