Wednesday, August 24, 2011

That Evil Practice Known as Editing

We write and write and write, working so hard, long hours, days on end, sleepless nights, much coffee Coffeeconsumption, and then it is finally over…

Or is it?

After working on a long book, there is no better feeling than finishing it. Something I rarely do but get so much pleasure out of it once it is done. I feel like celebrating, telling everyone I know, jumping up and down and squealing a little…then a realization comes to me that brings me back to my feet, painfully.


Oh editing, I hate it. Writing is so much fun, but then once all those plot ideas are filled, those characters have finished their long journeys, those times of inspiration have past, those endless hours of tapping away on the keyboard joyfully have come to an end, it is time to climb down from those drifting clouds, put away that time of bliss, and get to business.

Time to edit.

Thrown Away PaperFor me, editing really breaks the blissful clouds that I rode on while writing, making me instead fall into a thick hole of mud, for as I reread through my story, look at the parts I thought were quite good, examine my plot I was so pleased with, visit my characters that I imagined were great, I realize I was utterly wrong. My scenes make no sense, my plot has way too many holes in it and is much too cliché, my characters are growing too drab, it all comes crashing down. I get so depressed and discouraged, wondering if it is even worth bothering spending all the time it would take to make this story even somewhat decent, or to just forget it and write something else…only to do the same thing.

Editing, well, is hard! You want to think you just need to add a comma here or there, but really it often takes great amounts of time and work, sometimes to the point of completely rewriting. Snipping out entire paragraphs and changing whole scenes is overwhelming, not to mention depressing at times. Yet it must be done.

So how am I going to go on with it? I have a few things that help with motivation.

One thing that drives me the most is my annoying perfectionist ways. I am a perfectionist, it is true, especially when it comes to cleaning. My brother jokes about me having OCD as far as cleaning goes; it just has to be done, and it has to be clean!! Everything. I am a neat-freak to the ultimate level. This not only goes for my room and the house, it also goes for my stories. I want them to be clean. I do not want any grammar flaws or misspells, weird sentences or plot holes, it needs to be perfect. Though I do annoy myself with my perfectionist ways, it is one drive that helps me to edit. Having everything clean, polished, and readable is great!

Another thing that helps with my editing process is that feeling of accomplishment I know I’ll have at the end. Just like when I finish writing a story, finishing it completely, edited and all, will be a feeling I cannot even imagine. (Oh yeah, have I mentioned I have not actually ever wholly finished a story, as far as editing goes? Eheh.)

One more thing I love is revisiting my characters and recounting their adventures with them. I love my characters. To a writer, characters are like the writer’s children or dearest friends. Reading back through my stories is like visiting an old friend. It is quite enjoyable. And going through those adventures with them again is very nice as well. I often get in the mood to edit just so I can see my characters again, or read a part of the book I liked.

Keeping those three things in mind helps drive me through that dreaded editing process.

Despite all this, one strange thing I have discovered about me is that I quite enjoy editing other’s work, even though I hate doing my own. For some reason it is so much easier to spot other’s mistakes. That sounds dreadful, but it is true. You might very well find a missing comma in someone else’s sentence and not even notice you have made the same mistake with your own. I actually enjoy editing other’s things so much I threw around the idea of becoming an editor at one point. That sounds totally crazy to me being as how I always say I hate editing and am dreadful at it, but that really just goes for my own things. But…I probably will not become an editor.

So why bring up editing today?Backspace Key

I have just recently finished writing a story, last Wednesday in fact, and it is now time to edit. Though I am a bit scared, I am actually almost looking forward to it. I think my favorite set of characters I have ever written about is in this story. Even though it has only been a week since I finished writing this book, I already miss them greatly. Still, I know it is going to be a lot of work. I want this book to be good, so I am going to try to do some very serious editing. Kinda scary…

In order to help my motivation I think I will keep up with my process on my blog here. Maybe share a sentence I found I liked now and again, or tell about any difficult editing I had to do that day. I don’t know what all, but it will definitely help me get through it.

So, in conclusion, editing is hard, yes. It is a lot of work and makes you see your once wonderful, fantastic story, into a muddied monster of doom and despair. Yet, in the end, once that mud has been scrubbed, chiseled, and perhaps even sawed off, your story can once again float in the clouds, shining brightly with cleanness, as you embrace that magical feeling of accomplishment.

Time to start editing…

1 comment:

  1. I know the feeling...editing is hard. Sigh, the life of a writer is a hard one! (But fun, as well!) Can't wait to hear more!


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