June 26, 2019

Weaving in Ends

It's been a while since I've posted a revision update (or anything at all). Some faithful readers may have been under the beautiful illusion that I was finished revising, but others may recall that my previous post about the novel referred to "getting back to work on cleaning up all these smaller issues." Yes, of course I'm revising again, because what else would I do with myself?

But allow me to explain in the form of a knitting metaphor. A large garment such as a sweater takes a long time to knit. It's made from many balls of yarn and often multiple pieces (front, back, sleeves) that get sewn together. When a sweater is finished and assembled, there might be a lot of loose yarn tails hanging from various edges and seams. The process of hiding and tidying up those tails is called "weaving in ends".

If I finish knitting a sweater and immediately put it on without weaving in the ends, it functions as a sweater, in that it fits on my body and keeps me warm. But all those tails hanging off don't look good. People can still admire the sweater's gorgeously complex pattern of color, but the glaring distraction of the loose ends catches their attention first, muting their appreciation. The year I put into knitting the sweater is undermined because I didn't spend the required hours weaving in the ends.

In knitting, I detest weaving in ends, and I don't think I do it very well. Happily, as I work through my manuscript again, tidying up ugly sentences and trimming away the irrelevant bits, I'm enjoying myself, and I'm feeling good about my editing abilities. It's highly satisfying to get each chapter into tip-top shape by removing the problems I don't want hanging loose. When I put this sweater on and wear it out into the world, it's going to look great.

Good Stuff Out There:

→ At Vox, Eliza Brooke investigates the practice of placing "A Novel" on book covers: "Books have used the 'XYZ: A Novel' format since the 17th century, when realistic fiction started getting popular. The term 'novel' was a way to distinguish these more down-to-earth stories from the fanciful 'romances' that came before..." (Thanks, The Millions!)