How Editing A Novel Is Like Carrying A Big Purse

Either the answer to my prayers or a full blown nightmare. Not sure which.

Either the answer to my prayers or a full blown nightmare. Not sure which.

JUST A NOTE: THE NEW TITLE FOR “FINDING IZZY LANE” IS “THE GOOD NEIGHBOR.” I HOPE YOU’LL LOOK FOR IT IN 2015!

I found a banana at the bottom of my purse. There was no smell, no recollection of a lost snack. I was just in there, elbow deep, rooting around for a tissue (didn’t have one), or maybe a lip gloss (always have two), and found fruit. I hadn’t even remembered putting it in there. Out it went. Obviously at some point I thought I needed a banana in my purse, likely an effort to stave off plummeting blood sugar on some lone suburban excursion. But when I found the banana I realized I hadn’t needed it when I thought I would — and there was no reason to save it. I had other awesome things in my purse (entire case of pens, mini hairbrush, four eyeglass cleaners, cinnamon Altoids—the best) and that I would never miss the banana.  I also realized that if I wanted a banana, I could always get another one.

At the end of the week I received my edits for FINDING IZZY LANE, my next novel. Getting those pages in the mail in a big envelope with a St. Martin’s Press return address was the same kind of rush I get when I find that brand new perfect purse. Granted, a novel isn’t perfect (ever), but especially not in the revision stages. Yet, there is inherent, undeniable thrill in potential. Like with an empty purse.

When I was writing FINDING IZZY LANE I took a somewhat different approach from when I was writing THE GLASS WIVES. Frankly, that was easy, as my early drafts of THE GLASS WIVES had no real “approach.” This time, I followed advice from my editor (as much as I could). She had told me once that it’s easier to take things out than put things in—so instead of writing sparse, which is my inclination, I tried to fill things out as much as possible, knowing that I could go in later and pull out what I didn’t need or want. Like the banana! When in doubt, I often left things in this version of FINDING IZZY LANE, that I might have left out had I been writing THE GLASS WIVES. And while there are certainly places I need to fill out and bump up in FINDING IZZY LANE, I am comfortable with the decision of what I left in initially. I thought I might need them, so they stayed. Now they’ll go. I believe they also gave my editor, and her assistant (who is awesome), a keen insight into the story and characters, even if some of the passages or scenes will be deleted or changed or moved around.

And that’s also like carrying a big purse, or even a small one (I have many of each). I have to make sure that my phone is easily accessible, and that a few key cosmetics are grabbable. I move things between pockets inside and out, check to make sure the key is where it needs to be. Doesn’t matter if it’s a wristlet or a satchel,  I’m a huge re-arranger.

When I’m writing, I think I know the whole story I’m writing but not necessarily the order in which it should be told. I am a cut-and-paste diva, just like in the olden days of my career in PR, I would literally cut and paste columns of copy to layout newsletters and brochures. I had a keen eye for being able to make everything fit and an uncanny knack for writing headlines that precisely spanned their allotted widths (thank you, Temple University Journalism degree). Nowadays, there’s no printing out and no rubber cement, but I still clip and maneuver sections to fit—but within the context of the story instead of on the page (that comes later, with page proofs).

And if there is something that comes out of FINDING IZZY LANE that needs to go back in, that’s possible too. Unlike old bananas, I save deleted lines and scenes. But like a banana, if I wait just long enough, I might go back and find that they stink.

I’m excited to get started polishing FINDING IZZY LANE. For the next long while it will be like that brand new purse I now carry every day, breaking it in, making it mine, having it feel like an old friend.

Yes, I love me my purses. And after a healthy time away, I’m loving FINDING IZZY LANE. Even if it was the merging of the two ideas that reminded me most people don’t pull a banana out of their purse and think, “OH MY GAWD. THIS IS JUST LIKE EDITING.”

Welcome back to my world, folks. We’re in for a wild ride.

Amy xo 

Want to read a bit about FINDING IZZY LANE? Click here.

Want to see my FINDING IZZY LANE Pinterest board, complete with what I call, Iz-pirational quotes? Click here.