Friends of Padre Steve’s World,
I have not posted anything for quite a while because I have been editing and re-editing my book “Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory!” Racism, Religion, Ideology and Politics in the Civil War Era and its Continuing Importance.
Finally today I reached the end of the editing process, which of course has taken place alongside my daytime job as I also try to get everything I need accomplished for my VA claim, my retirement physical, paperwork, and work around the house even as I seek a job to supplement my retirement. I really haven’t take a day off for weeks. Likewise, I have pretty much ignored social media for the last two weeks, barely kept up with the news, and haven’t even read the comics in a week.
I have been staying up to two or three in the morning most nights and somehow got the manuscript down from 137,800 words to 99,993 words. Of course in that I probably took out close to 39,000 words and by editing sentences and paragraphs to make them better added some.
My agent said to be ruthless in the process. I was more ruthless than I have ever been and I was really amazed at the grammatical errors, repetitions, and bad word choices in the draft, some from autocorrect. I discovered a lot of them when I went backward through the manuscript paragraph by paragraph. I had never done that before and it really opened my eyes. I don’t know where I got the idea to do that but it made sense.
Then I went through it from the top sentence by sentence and paragraph by paragraph, sometimes rearranging the order of sentences and paragraphs because I had jumped ahead and then went back to my original thought. I did that a lot. It was like Then there were the times I used two, three, or four words when one would do.
Stephen King noted: “To write is human, to edit divine.” My efforts over the past month showed this to me.
Thomas Jefferson was wise when he said: “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” My wife Judy has preached me that sermon for years, but I think I finally got it this time.
The process taught me a lot about writing and about me. It was challenging because I learned things in the editing process about facts I had overlooked because of my presuppositions, about different people and events. In the process I had to change parts of the narrative to be honest and not to portray that I admired or didn’t without the shades of gray that showed them to be more complex than we are often taught. I found that I could portray people as heroes who were just using the system, or evil for doing the same. That is what makes writing history in search of the truth such an uncomfortable experience.
I also discovered that necessity sometimes people to change, maybe not in their beliefs and attitudes, but in their actions based more on realism and necessity than ethics. As I always told my students: the one constant in history are human beings, and humanity shows a remarkable tendency to behave as human beings no matter what their race, religion, education, or societal position.
I am now going through my illustrations to make sure that they are all public domain and then I will move on to creating an index with some program I have never used. My agent told me that I will have to practically sequester myself for two to three days to do it.
I have a bunch of medical appointments tomorrow and maybe I will get a chance to read something new, catch up on the news, and look at the comics in between.
Pray for me a sinner, and my wife Judy who has to put up with so much.