The house is quiet.
And I’ve finished The Splendid Children.
I finished the initial draft and put the manuscript to rest on June 3, 2015. Between the rest periods and the flurries of active editing, it took almost exactly a year to have it ready to ship to an editor or agent. I reached that point just about midnight as June 1 became June 2, 2016.
When I started running again in my mid -20s, I did not go far and I did not go fast. But every time I finished a run, I put my arms in the air as if I was breaking the tape at the Pru on President’s Day. Even if a two mile run is a joke to someone in actual shape, it was a big deal to me.
In my head, I would cue the Rocky Theme, and sometimes whistle, hum or dah-dah-dah, dah-dah, dah-dah-dah-dah a few bars. Did it again last night.
So El Gato Guapo is the first one to hear any of my book.
We have a system. He hears me when I put my foot on the floor anytime after 4:30 a.m. and sprints from whatever corner of the house he is in. He manages to be between me and the bathroom before I can open the door of the bedroom.
I then have two options:
Option A: Go downstairs and feed him a can of mush, which someone in a marketing department rebranded “pate’,” then sit somewhere so he can come to rest on me and stay there.
Option B: Listen while he wakes my daughter, then my wife, and then execute Option A within 10 minutes anyway.
This is working out for both of us right now, since my editing procedure on this third pass is to read the book aloud. And I am finding myself unable to concentrate on what I’m reading aloud if there is another soul within earshot.
I don’t know why this is. It is not, I don’t think, an extension of author Amy MacKinnon’s caution not to talk your story away. The story is written. It is not because I am embarrassed of the story. I am unclear if it is a jealousy, that I want it to still be mine for a little while longer. Or a fear that hearing disjointed bits and starts will spoil the whole.
I have met and read people who claim to love editing their fiction. I do not hate them, but consider them strange and exquisite mistakes of nature. Like the guy who last year took home what looks like a bowling trophy for eating 62 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs at the annual (yes, really) competition held at Coney Island every Independence Day.
Writing The Splendid Children was very much like skiing down hill for me. It was still work. I fell from time to time and was plenty sore more than once. I even skied off the trail and into the woods in Chapter 4, necessitating a retreat and retry. But there was also a lot of feeling myself pulled forward to an inevitable goal, with every anticipation that I would know when I was done.
Editing offers essentially none of that.