Editing my first novel…

I had an hour-long chat with MY editor, Peter Carver on the 22nd.  He had sent me 9 pages of editorial notes a few days earlier. Wisely, I didn’t read them until Don and I returned from a one-night get away to the sandy, but blustery, beaches of Lockeport. I was a little freaked out, mainly because the novel is more fiction than fact, and I was worried Peter and I weren’t on the same wavelength on that point.  He was very reassuring and it’s all good now.  Many of the points are simple things that I can fix in a few minutes.  His main areas of concern were logistical – ie. relating to time, distance and setting. I had to confess that I was more concerned with creating the story itself; believable characters and situations, when I was revising last winter with Gary Blackwood. I’ve sent a few questions off to Jacob, and I’m hoping he’ll get back to me soon as I have to finish this first round of revisions before the end of January. Depending on his response as to when and where he was (if he remembers from 20 years ago!) at a given time, there may be a lot of rewriting of certain parts of the novel. Peter seems pretty happy with a lot of aspects of the current manuscript – it’s so amazing to get positive feedback, especially from someone for whom I have enormous respect. It is kind of an odd circumstance wherein I’ve created a work of fiction, the bones of which are Jacob Deng’s story. In reading the manuscript now, I sometimes find it hard to distinguish between the parts that are fiction and those that are non-fiction.

I just finished Caroline Pignat’s GG-winning novel, Greener Grass, also edited by Peter, and it’s excellent! I’m envious of the opportunity she had to spend time in Ireland, researching the history of the Potato Famine, and just breathing in the air of the setting for her novel. Kit’s voice is very true, and it’s so lovely that Caroline was able to pick her own grandmother’s brain as part of researching the story. Stories are such a wonderful way for people, young and old, to learn about the past – I had no idea of the intimate details of the potato famine prior to reading this novel. 

As 2009 is on the brink of becoming history, I’m pretty happy about my writing life.  If all goes according to plan, I should have 5 illustrated chapter books published by the Korean language school next year, one novel, and one non-fiction ESL book about Quebec. I’ve been writing for close to 10 years now – hopefully my publishing drought is over…I’ll keep my fingers crossed…

One thought on “Editing my first novel…

  1. Wow! Jan that’s very impressive. It sounds as though 2010 will be a very busy year for you. I grinned when you mentioned you almost freaked out when you read the editorial notes. How well I remember my reaction when I read mine the first time. After I’d read them through a few times, I was able to clam down.. I know you’ll do fine.

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