The Truth about Editing

After NaNoWriMo ended, I put the first draft of my book out of sight and out of mind for a month so I could revisit it with new eyes in January. But, every now and then, it would pop into my thoughts for a moment and I’d buzz with excitement. I’d convinced myself that, this time, editing would be a breeze; it would be an enjoyable process inevitably resulting in perfection. Maybe I got this idea because a month’s distance gave the process an uncharacteristic appeal, or maybe I was suffering from “greener grass” syndrome while toiling with my short story edits. Whatever the cause, these joyous feelings began to evaporate as January approached. Suddenly, I had to finish the short story, then I needed to give myself a break from writing and focus on reading for a weekend, then I needed to organize the craft room. And then I realized that the idea of revisiting my novel terrified me.

Euphoria lifted, I was left with the truth about editing: it’s not fun, it’s not easy, and it forces you to confront your less-than-perfect writing.

This weekend, the pressure of my first-round editing deadline forced me to take out the draft. I’ve committed to editing one chapter a day for initial revisions and notes so I can devote February to major revisions and then submit my draft to a writer’s workshop by the March admission deadline.

I broke out the smelling salts, cracked open my binder, and read through the first chapter. Something amazing happened–I liked what I was reading.

I’ve been a bit bummed out ever since I submitted that short story. I was writing outside of my genre to challenge myself and I wasn’t satisfied with the way it turned out. I started to feel like a bad writer and it was fear of further disappointment that kept me away from my novel draft when January rolled around. Reading the first chapter of my novel reminded me that I can write. I may not be the next Stephen King or Clive Barker, but I can do fantasy, and I enjoy writing fantasy.

So, I’m back at it. Editing still blows, but I really do like this story and the characters, and I’m happy to be reunited with them.

6 thoughts on “The Truth about Editing

  1. Welcome to my world. I keep thinking we have a publish-ready copy of Blind Sight and then a beta reader will point something out so that we have to go through the whole manuscript to fix it.*cries a little inside* We left ours alone for a month too. Didn’t make editing any more fun.

    At least you’re happily reunited with your characters.


    • Ugh, I hate feeling done with something, only to find out there’s more work ahead. It really is an exhausting process. But it must feel amazing to be so close to publishing! Congratulations!

      • It is and it isn’t. March 1 feels so far away until we realize there’s more to do than anticipated and suddenly it feels like March 1 is right on top of us. Part of me wishes someone had warned me about the process after the book is written, but then I might not have started the book in the first place.

        • That’s a bit scary to hear. I’m going to hold onto my ignorance, so I don’t chuck my novel into the nearest shredder.

  2. I’m right there with you. I have to revise a sample chapter for submission, and I find myself doing anything but writing. Funny thing is, I usually like editing, just not under a deadline. Now all I can think about is how crappy the novel is and how far it has to go before it’s ready.

    • If I didn’t work under deadlines, nothing would ever get done. EVER.

      Editing has a way of stealing one’s thunder, especially when you know your work is going to be critiqued, but perhaps keeping in mind that the final product will be that much better as a result will get you back into the spirit. That’s the Kool-Aid I’m drinking at the moment anyway.

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