The proof is in the proofs...
The other day, I experienced one of my odder moments as a writer. When I came home from work, I found a much anticipated package containing the page proofs for A Murder at Rosamund's Gate (that's not the odd part, that's the extremely thrilling part).
the inside cover page
At this point, I can only make very minor edits. A word here and there, typos, minor grammatical changes--that's about it. The book is nearly ready--all 340 pages of it. A heady and strange mixture of emotions regularly accompany this realization.
But the odd thing? Later that same evening, I happened to be poking through some old files and I came across the very first handwritten draft of this novel, which I began in 2003. All scratched up, full of non sequiturs and dangling thoughts, somehow this mess became an actual novel. Holding that handwritten draft alongside my proofs was definitely a surreal moment, and it was hard not to compare the original version with the final.
To be sure, some things were different. My heroine was originally named Abigail, although somewhere along the way, she became Lucy. Another main character saw his name changed several times too, from Thornton to William to Adam. I also had a prologue then (which I've since eliminated, as I've mentioned before), and even more interestingly--I had an entirely different adversary than the one who crept into the pages later. In fact, the main crime was different, although I had written emphatic notes to myself--'Must take place during seventeenth-century plague and Great Fire of London.' So the setting never changed, nor did my original inspiration.
The book took me ten years to write. Honestly, I never thought when I began this story that I would even finish it, let alone that it would be out in the world. But the proof, I guess, is in the proofs.
6/17/2012 10:30:31 pm
This is just so inspiring! Knowing that the road is long and winding helps it feel a lot less intimidating. One day! One day!
6/18/2012 12:07:19 am
Handwritten? Yeesh. I only handwrite things that I never want to read again. It's a form of encryption.
Jeff, I have many many MANY drafts of novels that I started over the years. It took a while to find the one that stuck. I don't think you should be afraid of rewriting--killing your darlings can be quite liberating! On the other hand, maybe you shouldn't worry about re-writing while you're still getting the first draft done?
6/19/2012 01:04:13 am
Yeah, that's exactly the problem. I'm very good at plotting beginnings—not so much endings. Usually I'm in rewrite when I'm trying to figure out what the hell should happen in Acts IV and V.
6/18/2012 12:59:14 am
That must have been amazing to receive your page proofs and compare them to your originals notes. It's really fascinating to follow your journey on here Susie! :-)
6/18/2012 01:24:15 pm
wow wow wow. Congratulations and hurray to your manager in chief!
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Historian. Mystery writer. Researcher. Teacher. Occasional blogger.