If an author crashes into a tree in a forest, does any one hear it?

Yesterday was one of those days.   On the good side, I finished the first draft of Clearing the Way, the first completed original manuscript I’ve managed since the stroke in 2010.  Even though it has some holes where I’m still trying to remember exactly which word I was looking for (only the right word will do), it’s a triumph and I am beyond pleased.   It’s currently in the hands of my main beta reader for it, and will go to the hubby for first edit this weekend, but the first part of Nathalie and Gideon’s saga is set down and ready for the nuts and bolts attack.

 

And then there’s The Emperor’s Finest.  My first baby, completed in 1999.   My dark, bloody epiphany, the first of these to develop legs strong enough to take it beyond the page 40 death mark.  And when it did, it did, topping out in its first draft at an unwieldy 490 pages. As you may possibly know, Emperor’s underwent a marathon editing session, cut down to 370 pages, and went live as an Amazon ebook not that long ago.   I’ve been purposefully ignoring it, focusing on Nathalie, and trying hard not to obsess over its progress or lack thereof.   But last night I finally dipped a toe in, and took a look.

I’ll be the first one to admit that Emperor’s Finest has a brutal ending.   On one hand, I am proud of it.   Neither of the main characters acts out just because it’s over.   Neither one of them does something they wouldn’t, shouldn’t, do just to give a sparkly feel good ending.

However, that’s easy enough for me to say since I’ve…read the sequel.   Yes, there is one, there has always been one.   Somehow, I came straight off of the 490 page first part and started the second the next day.  The decision was made at the onset of this to just see how Empfine went… if had all the flight capacity of a lead pigeon, then we weren’t going to disturb the sequel, we were just going to let it all die gracefully while focusing on the newer works.   Call it a learning experience, and carry on.

Except, Empfine is generally receiving quite positive reviews, except for that brutal ending.   So last night I began to look for just where I’d squirreled the back ups for the sequel.  (Hey, it was completed in 2000, it’s a bleeding miracle I thought I still had a copy somewhere!)  And finally, after some confusion, located my back up.  Then converted my back up to a format that my current word processing program will read.  Then, for the first time in years, opened the sequel to the Emperor’s Finest.

How bad could it be?   I vaguely remembered it as being ‘complete’, so my worst nightmares were over.  I found it, it was intact, converted and shorter than Empfine….right?   Some editing, and we’d be back in business.

Apparently my ability to keep a file for twelve years is better than my ability to remember something I’d written.  I had found it.  It was  intact.  Converted.  And… 539 pages long.   And that’s when I hit that tree at top speed.   This is more than ‘a little editing’.  Although I wrote much cleaner prose then than I do now, more precise and time consuming, I am still not willing to bring a 539 page monster to the table.   I guess it’s time to start whupping this one into shape, while I take a breather from Nathalie.

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