Well, heard back from my genius editor at Orbit about The Eternal Prison, so the long dark tea-time of my soul begins in earnest. Meaning I have some revisions to make.
Here’s my recollection of the conversation, which should go a long way to illustrating the Exciting Life of a Novelist in These, The End Times:
Genius Editor: Hello! Put on some pants and listen.
ME: Uh. . .pants, pants, pants. . .hold on. . .pants, pants, where the hell–ah! Here’s a pair. Not mine, but will have to do. <grunting noise> Whew! I’ve, uh, gained a few–okay! We’re in. Shoot.
GE: I just got done with The Eternal Prison. Excellent. Best one so far. You’re a genius.
GE: Wait, don’t start drinking yet.
ME: <pausing with bottle in air> Uh, okay.
GE: I could not help but notice that we seem to be missing several chapters. Like, the whole sequence when they visit the Center of the Earth to retrieve the magic ring? Aside from not really being in concert with the universe you’ve created in the first two books, this whole sequence is just not there. At the end of one chapter they say they’re heading to the Center of the Earth, and the next chapter it’s like fifteen years later and that whole adventure is recalled in flashback by the characters. Very few flashbacks. It was very confusing. Was there a Unicorn? Because there was a lot of Unicorn imagery that might have made more sense if we’d been given that part of the story.
ME: Got it: more unicorn. I can do that.
GE: And, frankly, the whole last third of the book seems like ten chapters from a totally different book, just pasted in with the character and place names searched-and-replaced. Which I can tell because the search-and-replacing was sloppy, resulting in Avery Cates being referred to as Avery DorCatesothy throughout. Aside from this sort of unprofessional mistake, the last third of the book, as a consequence, makes absolutely no sense. Suddenly they’re in a zeppelin on an alien planet? And there’s elves?
ME: Uh. . .would more unicorn solve this as well?
GE: No, frankly, it would not. I think you have to re-write the whole last third. You know, so it makes sense.
ME: Uh-huh. Sure, sure. No problem.
ME: What, exactly, does “make sense” mean, in this context? I really don’t see why more unicorn wouldn’t work here as well. It would, you know, create a visual link between the two sections.
GE: Moving on, I can’t help but notice that several chapters interspersed throughout the manuscript are, in actualilty, Wikipedia entries, simply cut-and-pasted into the file, with no attribution or explanation. The entries don’t even seem to have anything to do with the story. For example, chapter 17 is the entry for the Heavy Metal band Iron Maiden.
ME: Shows what you know. This is deep, Joyce-ian stuff, here. You have to look deeper. I am a genius. Of sorts.
GE: Well, we can’t publish it like this.
ME: Right! I’ve been taking notes. Let’s see. . .basically, you want more unicorn. That’s what I’m getting.
ME: Oh! Right. And lose the Wikipedia stuff, despite the fact that that’s the core of the book and will win awards for us. But I should delete the Wikipedia entries. And more unicorn. Got it! When do you need a rewrite? I’m pretty open, I could have it to you by tomorrow morning. Maybe noon, but probably morning.
ME: Holy shit, do you think there’s a Wikipedia page on unicorns? Damn, I might have this re-write for you by tonight.
GE: <dial tone>
My memory may not be what it once was, so some of the details may have been fudged in there. Back to work!