The page proofs for The Bones of Paris are come, and gone. This is a time of considerable rejoicing chez King because after this, I NEVER HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK EVER AGAIN. Except to flip through and choose bits for reading aloud, and maybe off in the future when I’m about to write the characters again, but we can ignore those and say O THANK GOD I’m finished with burrowing through that same piece of verbal terrain over and over again.
See, by the time the page proofs for a book reach me, I’m pretty much blind to the words. I’ve written a first draft, then rewritten it so it makes sense, and given it to my editor. She then has gone through it with her machete and blood-red pen and handed the poor shattered thing back to me, and I’ve pieced it together, given it CPR, and sent it back to her. Only this time we seem to have repeated that final back-and-forth rather more times than any book should have to endure. True, it did work loads better with chapters two and five there instead of here, and making that character more ambiguous than s/he was at the start, and all those strolling-around-Paris sections cut down to nearly nothing, and and and…
But as I said, it makes a writer go blind to the words, and by the end I was pushing forward in uncomprehending obedience, trusting in my editor because rule one in the Laurie King world of writing is, The Editor is Right. This does not, by the way, mean that all editors are right, or even that YOUR editor is right for you, but I have learned over the years that mine generally is, and so I put the book back under the surgical knife time and time again.
Which meant that I hesitated, opening the proofs. Because even though it’s a rote kind of a job, going through for typos and spots where something we’d reworded in the copyedit stage got turned around or a changed sequence left a remnant behind, I dreaded finding a poor feeble creature that had had the life drained out of it. The proofs are always pretty dead to me anyway, even when it’s been a light rewrite.
And yet, this time I kept finding myself distracted from my rote edit by the story itself. A number of times I discovered that my eye had travelled down the page from the last mark of my pen, riding on the coattails of the character as he charged ahead into the action. Yes, there were a few places where I had to tighten a loose bit of description and slice away a few more leisurely bits, but still, the dead story kept reaching out fingers that grabbed me in.
If this applies to readers who haven’t been through the text eighteen hundred and twelve times, then I’m going to get a satisfying number of letters that start, “I stayed up all night reading Bones of Paris…”