Sunday, April 27, 2008

just like Jesus

Last year, when I was wondering where this writing dream was going, my family gifted me by contracting with a freelance editor out of Atlanta to read my manuscript to see if it had any merit. This editor was my first ever exposure to the professional writing world and I felt like I'd boarded a plane to a strange land. Her very vocabulary was different. She used terms like backstory, pretty clean at the line level, information dump, and suspension of belief. She took my book, my baby, and raked through it like she was killing snakes. Then she handed me a 40 page critique in addition to all the editorial comments she'd made in the body of the 462 page manuscript.

She said only a small percentage of manuscripts she evaluates show promise of eventual publication and mine did but for two things. It was too long. And my hero was too perfect. Just like Jesus. She recommended that I give him a quirk. Maybe more than one. So I did. I went back into the body of the manuscript and analyzed every scene he was in and chipped at him bit by bit until he became more real. When I was done I liked him even more. And then I shaved 100 plus pages off the book. This is not easily done. But I knew it was for the good of the story.

I'm wondering if the same thing happens to us on a spiritual level. Only God must work in reverse. We are far from perfect, but He wants us to be like Jesus. He has to chip at us to accomplish this. He takes the ordinary stuff of our lives and uses it to rub us raw and make us like His son. His is, as one writer calls it, "a severe mercy." He wants our story to sing. And he has to edit the heck out of us to do it. We aren't fully polished, to use an editorial term, until we reach heaven. We are a work in progress.

Have you read Benjamin Franklin's Epitaph?

The body of B. Franklin, Printer
(Like the Cover of an Old Book
Its Contents torn Out
and Stript of its
Lettering and Gilding)
Lies Here, Food for Worms.
But the Work shall not be Lost,
For it will (as he Believ'd)
Appear once More
In a New and More Elegant Edition
Revised and Corrected
By the Author

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