Rescuing Animals and Other Editing Adventures

Just lately, I've been performing major surgery on the novel I've been writing for more than a year.

As an animal fan, I'm drawn to television programmes about rural vets or animal rescue charities like the RSPCA. I enjoy the stories of these animals. Mostly they have happy endings, but that's not guaranteed, and I like the emotion involved in the rescue or the life-saving operation. For me, it makes for compulsive viewing.

Oh, the poor thing! How will the lonely man cope without his best friend while he's having his artificial foot fitted? How can people treat an animal that way? Oh, she'll be so happy with that family! Etc.

What has this to do with my novel? Surgery, that's the connection. 

You see, unfortunately, these programmes often include harrowing scenes of operations, which means that, being a squeamish sort, I spend half the programme gazing out of the window, or watching the TV through my fingers like a frightened child. 


So, back to my novel. It needed a radical new approach to make it work, and that meant donning my scrubs and going in. Yes, even with all my squeamishness. There it was, lying prone and insensible, just like all those poor, cute animals, but a lot less cute. And there was I, outwardly ready, inwardly steadying myself with a series of deep breaths and a giant cup of coffee. I set to with my surgeon's scalpel of highlight and delete to slit the beast open. Its innards slipped out onto the table in a pool of livid gore.

Why aren't these intestines working properly? They look healthy enough. Where's the blockage? Ah! Could it be this bulge here?

A nick with the scalpel, a few stitches, and then it's time to get the whole slippery mass back into the body.

But, wait a minute! There's so much of it! How will it ever go back in and function properly again? Yes, it all came out, so yes, it must be able to go back in, but... Look, mop my brow, will you? Mustn't drip sweat on the patient. Wait a minute, wait a minute...Got it! Quick, stitch the wound up  before it all spills out again. That's it, make sure the stitching's strong. Good, that's looking neat. Time to let it rest and recover. We'll see it again in two weeks to make sure all's well and everything's functioning as it should.

That's the stage I'm at now with my novel - the recovery stage. The manuscript is currently in the care of two trusted beta readers who will give me their view of the patient's post-operative function in due course.

In the meantime, I'll be in a darkened room, recovering.

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