The novel was complete, having gone through one thorough edit and my bride's careful eye. Then it was put on a shelf next to the wine to age for a month. I think that was the problem with my first book--I didn't get enough distance from it before I started editing & I missed a lot of places where it needed to be tightened.
I think that writers who let the unconscious rule the process, particularly those with a tendency towards the absurd, get a lot of good wierd stuff, but the unconscious violates the sacred rule laid down by Strunk & White in The Elements of Style: "Omit needless words, omit needless words, omit needless words."
February took forever to get here. That's when I could start editing, but now I'm on the horns of dilemma.
One horn is the detailed editing. I'm going very slowly, finding all those stupid typos that spell check won't highlight, turning long phases into shorter, tighter ones, and I think I'm improving the flow.
But the other horn is the entire story itself--reading the book as if it were the first time. I can't do both.
Does this mean I have to read it twice? I've already read it so many times, it's beginning to show signs of age. How in the world do I approach it with a fresh eye?
My agent's read the first two hundred pages & loves it, but he's said the next version has to be it! He's not interested in reading it two or three more times--not that I blame him.
We'll see. I've never been in this situation before. It's not as much fun as writing, and I don't know how good I am at editing my own work.
Anyway, an interesting situation.