Lowering the Scalpel

The past number of weeks I’ve been busy with revisions to a novel manuscript. A publisher requested them, and I have a deadline, and it’s been an interesting and challenging task. My first thought when I got the email requesting them, of course, was, I don’t know how to do this!

But I soon found out that, also of course, I did. It turned out to be a pretty logical process, once I took a few minutes to think about it. Re-read the manuscript, because it had been some time since I’d actually looked at it. Make copious notes about what to change and how to change it and how best to address the concerns. And then—do it.

The reading and note-making took the bulk of the time, because I wanted to be thorough. It’s also sometimes a precarious undertaking, to start tinkering with the innards of a novel manuscript, because if you’ve done it right, it all stands up, nicely stacked and interdependent like a house of cards. Switching out and adding in new cards after the fact can cause the entire thing to come tumbling down, so it takes a lot of care and a steady hand.

I got to a point eventually, though, where I knew it was time to turn on the change-tracking feature and start making those changes. Beginning that part of the process was something I had to push myself into a bit. To switch analogies from cards to medicine, starting to mark up the manuscript felt like the start of a surgical procedure. The scalpel is in hand, you know it’s time, but you haven’t cut into the skin yet, and there’s a moment of hesitation. You have a plan, but you don’t really know how much blood there’s going to be once you start to cut. Any number of things could go wrong. Once you make that initial incision, there’s no going back—you’re committed to seeing the whole thing through to the end.

However, the surgery is the only treatment option, and you know it. And I knew it. So I pushed past that moment of hesitation, and so far the surgery is going well. It has a ways to go yet, but I think the patient is going to survive, and emerge stronger than ever. I’ll report on the prognosis as it becomes available.

Photo credit: chrisgan

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One Comment

  1. Gary Henderson

    You can repair it. Make it faster, stronger, better. The Bionic novel.

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