Writing Life

Tapping the Edits

So, a while back I hired an editor to work on Fate of the Red Queen.  I’ll admit, I struggled, which came as a shock, because I’m usually quite willing to do battle with a book, and I’ve generally embraced commentary–even commentary I don’t agree with–because they make me think!  And THAT makes the writing better.  Always.

But, my poor Fate.  I couldn’t seem to get on with it.  My usual turn around rate was… well, if there had been any arbitrary deadline, it had long since whooshed past, and so far past, it was whooshing past someone else’s desk across the country.

So, getting out of that struggling place, I’ve printed out Fate (and if I drop these unintentional pun bombs, just laugh with me.  I miss it, see it, and laugh).  There were a lot of things I missed in the months of getting nowhere with this book. (Ha!).  I missed the joy of that creativity that comes from writing, editing and so on.  With the printed book, my aim was to read the book out loud, take my time in a very different way (one that didn’t include staying in bed, binge watching TV shows, and drinking heavily).

First page I read this:

When she’d seen her mentor Daulyin blessing the two pots of blood red ink, and the simple sticks, she had thought she could bear this part of her initiation easily. Two mothers of the order were on either side of her, each with a pair of those sticks, one with a needle fixed to the end, the other to tap it into her skin.

She gritted her teeth. Kuen had been trying to use the rhythm of the two needles being tapped into her skin as counterpoint to the litany of her initiation vows. She knew it backwards and forewords, but the pain distracted her.

Note the word tap, and being tapped.  I don’t have problems with the passive type voice.  That’s what’s happening.  But my editor did call me on the use of words too close to each other.  Frankly… that’s what is happening, but I’ve called other writers on this, so I have to look into this.  I turned to one of my favorite tools, despised by many, the Thesaurus.

I love mine.

Imagine my surprise that when I look at the word tapping I get a choice for extraction and banging.  Of course I had to look up extraction!  305.3: drawing, drafting, sucking, suction, aspiration, pipetting, pumping, siphoning, tapping, broaching…

For a woman who works, at her day job, selling wine it shouldn’t have taken me that long.  And here was that other glorious space.  The joy of writing, the joy of this creative process. Maybe it is a silly thing.  I don’t know.  But in the scene Kuen is undergoing initiation.  Reading this selection of  the term tapping, I thought about a wine barrel being tapped to get the wine that’s taken so long to become something other than grapes and yeast, a process that makes Galileo’s phrase about wine come to life.  “Wine is sunlight, held together by water.”

Just one word, subtle, unexpected, informs me of what the story is about–which of course I knew. This pain, and later pain, taps a richness within her.  Granted, Kuen isn’t going to be some sunny creature.  It’s one simple word that delights me, surprises me.  How I edit that first page, and the whole process of editing, is informed by it.  It changed how I looked at Fate.  (Okay, that one I intended!)

More, I was reminded of the joy of language use.  I’m going to be tapping this book, to get out of it the best it can be.