They’re lurking. The miniscule clumps, strands, and bits of primeval origin that were essential in the inception and growth of the story, but now hamper its ability to flourish. The story has outgrown them, but still they cling, abetted by the author who is complicit in their continued existence. I don’t know that this is the general experience, but it is certainly mine.
Recognizing such minutiae is difficult. You only know that it’s been fully eradicated when, as some experts say, ‘a reader’s eyes fly across the page’. I’ve come to understand that for me, a visual reader, it’s when there are ‘no images over which my brain can trip’.
When I’m watching the story as I read, and then the picture goes intermittent and grainy, it’s because I’ve hit a passage that I can’t smoothly visualize. It took me a long time to realize the cause of the fuzzy scenes. I earlier had thought it was because I had a natural aversion to smoothly reading my own work, much as some visual performance artists have an aversion to watching theirs. Growth in the art of writing has destroyed that delusion.
To eliminate the sentences, phrases, and words that are organic to the story, yet now cause it to be unfocused, I’ve armed myself with a solution of plot, story advancement and voice; and then used it to delicately, but purposefully, buff out the interference.
Being ‘done’ has been a process of discovery, at each stage of which I truly believed that I was. On the one hand, the road I have traveled has accelerated my growth as a novelist. I am developing the art of self-editing, which is of great benefit to editors with whom I may work in the future.
On the other hand, it is confusing and frustrating for those in the publishing business with whom I have interacted in the present. Maybe we’ll have a chance to talk again now that I’m truly done.Of course you are asking how do I know that this ‘done’ is the real deal. A reader long before I was a writer, I enjoy reading my favorite stories over and again. Now, I can do the same with my own, without stubbing my brain on an unfocused scene.