The trimming if I go the trimming route is all going to have to come at the cellular level. Tightening sentences till they scream. Pruning paragraphs line by line. I also have to be reasonable about my expectations given it's standing up to that size structurally, how much I cut - well, on the up side cutting is easier than padding.
My elegant vampiric muse is standing off with a small smile running her black-lacquered fingernail along the back of my neck. "I know you can do it. You're that good."
I know I need to do it because I really would like to see this one in print. Or all of them in print. I've got some emotional security if I've got some finished work on my hard drive when it's time to send them all out trotting looking for buyers, but this got ridiculous. Fine. It's a big rollicking background big enough to sustain all the more novels I can write indefinitely, that is a good thing and makes new ones easier to write. Witness the last effort, new ones are a lot easier to write. But I really let myself go with writing larger and larger. I know that wasn't even the biggest one in that back stack.
I have a couple of them that went over what one floppy disk could hold. As text files.
Can I bang my head on the desk now? Can I laugh at myself out loud, real loud, for overdoing it?
Oh, I'm a better writer this Spring than I was last Spring or two or three or four years ago! This is so surprising. This is what I was saying to myself back then to make myself roll on through instead of just laying down to die because I wound up in the warehouse for people who can't quite make it in life. I'm a better writer than I used to be. That is a wonderful thing.
I'm not as good a writer as I will be. That's a good thing too.
I have said these things over and over to myself to make me believe them. To keep from hanging my self esteem on whether my writing is perfect. It does not have to be perfect to be worthwhile. It never will be as good as next year's novels. No matter how old I am, the older Robert that I will become will know a little more craft and his hands be a little steadier on the tools and some niggling little trouble that was always a pain will clear up or some grand new experiment work and make sense.
One big thing I learned in 2001 was better pacing. I can estimate the size and work to that size now, that's a big one. That means if I know what the project is before I start, I really can just start working to that length and do the project I set out to. I have a wonderful sense of control about future novels, because Rites of Chavateykar was aimed at 'get it over 40,000' and I got close to that, Thrice on a Blue Moon wound up just about 90,000 as I aimed, and Strigler's Succubus came out within a thousand words of the estimated length in the rough. I prefer working with roughs that are already the right size, changing length drastically is a tougher rewrite.
I honestly believe it is possible to get good enough at this craft that I won't need to do much rewriting, that I can get it right the first time. And that the only way to attain that level of habitual skill is to break my bad habits, one by one. Or assume that the polishing pass is not a rewrite - some of that 'not rewriting' was categorizing some types of rewrites as 'don't really count.' My habit of paying more attention to what I'm saying than how it's punctuated might be a permanent one. That bit of personal laziness directly relates to the techno-crutch known as Word Grammar Checker. It flags long sentences. Every time I have several good short sentences connected by commas, it will flag the clump as a long sentence. I'll read and decide if it should be a long sentence or break the clump. Some of my works have more of that problem than others.
I might overcome it, or I might not bother.
I'm not sure I care, if the rewrites start getting to be as much fun as the rewrite on Strigler's was.
But I'm not consigning thirty or more novels to the trashbin either! I need to do this. I also need to stop cringing at the thought of how bad the one I sent to Tor is. It will either get rejected, or I will get some critique. Or it will be accepted and I'll have a chance to go over it one last time. It's not necessarily that bad - and it is not the one to look at now. It's actually out on submission. Therefore, it will either come back or not. I took a chance on it the way it is. It was the best I could make it at the time.
And that is true of anything I sent out last week, or will send out next month, or will send out next year.
There are worse books already in print than the one I sent out. This is something important to remember when I'm playing Literary Lottery. If this is the time I make it the first time, and then I write more and my later works are better, that's not a bad thing. It has a chance. What I am writing now has more of a chance. It's okay to accept that in a game of skill my odds rise the better a writer I am!
I can only ever measure how good my books are in relation to myself.
They are mine. No one else in this world can write them. I can't write aliens like Larry Niven or Sheila Viehl. I can only write aliens the way Robert A. Sloan writes them. I can't even write about nature like Stephen Jay Gould, though I suck down every scrap I've read of his biological essays and they're inspirational. Hm. I could write off Natural History, Scientific American and The Smithsonian as research even if I don't try to contribute to those publications.
Where that leaves me today?
Building up energy for the next big push. I just gave myself a little pep talk. I spent the morning playing around on Deedlit's Den posting and having fun. I have a role playing game online this evening and I have a dentist's appointment tomorrow morning. After the dentist, I will have a short day because I need to stay awake during the day on Thursday when I go over to Andrew's to do First Day Covers.
This week doesn't have to be a monster productivity week, even in relation to myself. Doing Strigler's Succubus when and how I did was a little like the 'blitz' times I had at the print shop. I got intense and went pretty much round the clock working and got a lot done. I have now had two days when, even if I'm that off schedule, I did get eight hours of sleep. Maybe it's all right to go back to a leisurely reread and assessment on Blood Junkie and not expect much beyond minimal word count while I'm doing that important part of getting my career off the ground.
This thing will kick butt when I get it Done.
Robert and Ari >^..^<