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The Dangers of Double Dipping

I’m in the process of editing my novel into suitable rough draft form before handing it over to my beta readers. I admit to feeling like an overprotective parent – trying to make sure that my awkward but well-meaning progeny is ready for what I hope to be an encouraging and thought-provoking debut. Yes, the term is “rough” draft, so it’s not meant to be at 100%, but neither do I want to have to scrap it and start from scratch.

With that in mind, I have been doing a bit of double dipping. I have the copy I keep at home, and another copy that I keep to work on when away from home. This has been a happy arrangement for the last few months that I’ve been writing the novel, and I thought I was doing a pretty good job of updating myself on any edits floating between the two copies…so that I would always have the most recent copy at my disposal.

I was wrong.

It’s pretty safe to say that I know my novel by heart. I am acutely aware of the flow of the story, and there is an expectation that certain scenes that I know I wrote will be there when I perform each chapter edit.  It’s valid to say that I was shocked a few nights ago when I opened what should have been (and was labeled as) the most recent edit of the novel, intending to pick up from where I left off in the reading and editing process…only to find an entire section missing.

As though I’d become a character in some cheesy hidden camera show, I actually looked around the room with an, “Are you kidding me?” expression, while scrolling through the document once more for the half-dozen or so pages that had somehow disappeared.

Thankfully, I do keep a rather extensive electronic history complete with additional backups, and the mistake was quickly remedied.  I realized then that I need to do a much better job of “transporting” the novel from place to place.

Could I have rewritten the missing pages? Absolutely. Am I thankful that I didn’t have to? Definitely.  Officially, I am done writing the novel except for tightening up any ends that might be even remotely considered loose, and I’m focusing on edits. The temptation that would come with the “harmless” rewriting of one section could turn into tinkering with another…and then another…when the goal is to fine-tune and subtract rather than add.

Lesson learned.