This is how the editorial process works in writing, too. You have your grotty first draft, with through-line problems and false trails and misleading bits and muddy stuff and muddles and messes. And then you go over it gently and carefully, to make it precise and bright and to let it show everything it must, without showing anything it shouldn't.
Although sometimes, honestly, you just can't get the red flowers off the bottom unless you are willing to cheat.
I'm still waiting for the edit letter for Hell & Earth (this is so not getting done before WFC), but I've just gotten a preliminary note on By the Mountain Bound from casacorona, who has a perfectly reasonable problem with the POV of the book. (It's a problem that I'm not sure I know why is happening, because I was at pains to prevent it, but there you go: sometimes what we are trying to do just doesn't work.)
So I have two potential solutions, both of which entail yet another complete rewrite of the book. One is to recast it in third person, which I am loathe to do, because of intimacy of POV--a story about three people not commicating very well, it seems to me, goes down better if they are the ones telling the story; it helps makes the miscommunications intimate and organic, rather than horrible cheap tacky romance-novel plot devices--unreliable narrator issues. (Okay, Blood & Iron has an unreliable third-person narrator, but since part of the unreliability is the third-person (it's a lie!)) Which is to say, and "I" telling you a story is, in my head, allowed to be purblind, mislead, and often just plain wrong. A "he" telling you a story--if that happens? It's the author cheating, because she sucks, and probably should have her typewriter taken away and smashed with a hammer to learn her better.
Um, yeah, I'm unreasonable about that one.
On the other hand, I'm aware that it's a gut-recoil issue and a squid, and I could probably be convinced if it's really what's best for the book. After all, I'm going to hate it by the time it's done anyway; it doesn't matter if I hate it for unreasonable reflexive issues or because I've read the motherfucking thing seventy-three times and rewritten it six. (I honestly can't even open Blood & Iron, at this point. It gives me hives to think about it.)
But before I do that, I'm going to try to sharpen up the distinctness of the voices in the first few chapters and see if that will work for Beth. I'm not actually sure what the problem is, because while the characters have similar cultural and social backgrounds (always a problem) they also each have a series of well-defined linguistic quirks and habits, and a sensory palette. But you know, I can front-load those things a bit more and see what happens. It may just need a tiny push to shift the equilibrium.
I want what's best for the novel, after all. The novel is what's important, not my own unreasonable prejudices. But I would also like a book that doesn't make me reflexively want to chop my fingers off for having written.
But first, I need to start going through Refining Fire. Because, ladies and gentlemen, we have a draft. At 56,000 words (MS word count, not manuscript count) or so.
It's a short novel, but it's a novel.