After spending waaaaaaaaaay too much time on not particularly important issues in chapter two of my fantasy novel draft (seriously, no one will pay as much attention as I did to Solana’s outfit. And I’m not done yet! Nope, I’m definitely still fixating on her shoes. Sandals or not? Sigh), I’m at last moving on to chapter four today. (Chapter 3 was pretty easy. Which leads me to believe it actually has major issues that I’m simply overlooking.)
The last time I revised this project—an undertaking I nicknamed “to the bone” because I had every intention of digging that deep to fix all the issues that had been niggling at me—I hustled through four or five chapters a week. That might explain why the “to the bone” revisions were more of a “facial scrub” revision. This time around I have nicknamed my undertaking “to the marrow.” And if you could see how blue with Bic each page is, you’d know that I’m taking that nickname very seriously.
This time I’m requiring only two chapters a week. It sounds like too little to me. (They’re not very long, after all.) On the plus side, instead of falling behind schedule I’m actually managing to slice and dice the required two chapters each week. (Okay, chapter 2 threw me off a little. But I’ll be totally back on track this week.)
Already, though, there’s a problem with digging so deep. As I read and re-read each chapter—once checking on character voice, once on imagery, once on shifting plot points, and so on and so on—my own voice starts bouncing off the inside of my head. The first time through I manage to find mistakes I overlooked before (within the first three paragraphs of chapter 3, two different characters were described as “huddled” over something. Three paragraphs! Good grief). The second time through, I forget the reasons for the changes I made the first time through, and change them back. By the time I get to the sixth time through—the read-aloud and purportedly final time through—every phrase I’ve put on paper sounds like I’ve heard it somewhere before.
I have, of course. I heard it the first through fifth times through. The problem is that maybe I also heard it earlier than that—like in the chapter I finished marrowing last week.
Fibromyalgia-wise, everything is starting to run together, too. Somehow we ended up with an interesting overlap of topics: an overview of the autonomic nervous system (the part of the nervous system we don’t consciously control) and an in-depth piece about dysautonomia (dysregulation of said nervous system).
The first several times I read these two pieces, which are written by different medical professionals, I thought the overlap would be informative and interesting for the readers. Now everything sounds the same to me, and I find myself tuning it all out. Even when I did the final, read-aloud run-through before turning the pieces in for layout, I wasn’t paying any attention to what I was saying. (That’s how I manage to get through reading glossaries at Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic. But I don’t need to pay attention to glossary content, whereas paying attention to the stories I’m supposed to be editing is usually kinda helpful.)
The clincher: today I realized that I’d turned in the dysautonomia piece for layout with the serviceable title, “An Introduction to Dysautonomia.” Unfortunately, I’d already entitled the autonomic nervous system piece, “Introducing the Autonomic Nervous System.”
It is times like these that I realize I need a vacation—not new sights to see, but new eyes to see them with. New thoughts to think about them. The day someone invents a product called Brain Refresher will be a happy day for people like me. In the meantime, I think I’ll see whether caffeine can perform the same function. Wish me luck.