Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The parts that matter


Over the last few weeks, I've been doing final edits on The End of San Francisco with my editor from City Lights – it's been an all-encompassing process! And it's also amazing. I've never had an editor before who spend hours and hours and hours reading through each chapter, and then talking through it on the phone with me, so that we can figure out how to bring the parts that matter the most to the center of attention without losing my intent, the voice, the style, the way the narrative evolves. I've never had an editor before who tells me she had trouble sleeping, because she was thinking about the manuscript. That's something that would happen to me! I've never had an editor before who, after I finally agree to cut a particular paragraph that I've been attached to, writes to me the next day to suggest the perfect place for it. We've been editing the book together, chapter by chapter. And her close reading has enabled me to make some bold decisions. For example, at one point she suggested a new chapter break in a particular place, and I took a look at that new chapter and realized oh, I don't need any of this. Or, wait, there's one section that I could move to the previous chapter, and one to the next chapter, but then let's get rid of the rest. It's not that what I removed wasn’t interesting writing – one story in particular, about how I got married to my best friend during our one year together in college, so that we could get off-campus housing, that's an amazing story but what I realized was that this book doesn't need it. I think it's stronger without – that's what a great editor can help you to imagine, and that's what I'm feeling now, this imagination. Excitement, really, as I'm getting ready to read the whole thing together again – hopefully I will look and realize oh, this is so much stronger – even if I miss certain things, the book as a whole is more impactful, intimate, explosive. Two days, and then it goes off to the printer for prepublication galleys – wish me luck…

4 comments:

Katharine Hope said...

Hurrah!

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Yay -- thank you!!!

Love--
mattilda

kayti said...

I can't wait to read this book and can you request this editor for your next books.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Yay -- thank you, Kayti!!! And, you're right -- what a great experience, for sure…

Love –
mattilda