It’s been almost four years since my editor offered me the opportunity to revise the manuscript for publication, and more than two years since it was actually acquired. It’s been almost a year-and-a-half since the last revision. In all honesty, other than When’s this book ever gonna publish? I haven’t thought about it much. Looking at it now is almost like looking at it for the first time. For instance, I found myself getting all salty with my editor, thinking she had added her own phrases to the manuscript. Those words are too good to be mine, I thought. But looking closer at past versions, I realized the words were mine. Somewhere around revision 26, I forgot.
Seeing the manuscript fresh has helped me to see problems I might otherwise have not. But I have to be very careful when making changes – even little ones. The story is nonfiction. My word choices were made very carefully, based on research. So each time I make a change, I have to go back to my research to double-check that I’m not messing up history. What I’ve discovered is that, although one word or phrase might sound or flow better, another word or phrase might suggest something inaccurate.
In addition, the illustrator for the book and the editor have a few questions. The answers will affect the art. Problem is, finding these answers haven't been easy because my story involves a slave. Slaves were considered property, like a horse or a mule, and the census didn't go knocking door-to-door counting mules — or Black people, for that matter.
It's been interesting swapping roles, artist to author. But I've learned that I love telling stories with words as much as I do with paint.
Now, it's back