There’s no point in dancing around it – editing is hard work. And if right now you’re wondering what I’m talking about – if you’re thinking I’m mad and are telling me through your computer screen that editing can be fun – then either you’re in an earlier stage of ‘fun-fiddly’ editing than I’m talking about, you have selective amnesia or you’re a robot. Take your pick.
The editing I’m talking about is gritty, finger skinning, brain twisting, eye gouging, painfully hard work. The editing I’m talking about is the part of the writing journey that will test your commitment to the process. It will make you question why on earth you want to be a writer (and conveniently forget the joy of new ideas and characters that consume you and and all those lovely butterfly things). This editing will make you question whether you have it in you. It will push your brain out your ears. BUT: I guarantee you that every writer, be they new or experienced, has felt this way. And probably has experienced all these doubts at some point during each and every book they’ve written.
Based on the above rant, you may well have guessed that I’m going through a tough round of edits. A few weeks ago I received Kate’s assessment on the latest draft of my mentorship novel, and she bravely, patiently and honestly guided me through how to take my novel into its third draft. My reaction has nothing to do with Kate or the way she approached it – she has been an absolute dream to work with. She even invited me to bang my head against a wall, saying this is how she often feels at this point in the editing process. It’s always nice to know you’re not alone.
Luckily I’m sitting on the cusp of the ‘hard work’ mountain. After some serious time spent world building, pushing all my major and minor characters further, significant reorganising of the plot points, and detailed (scene by scene) analysis of pacing, I’m almost ready to start the rewrite. For me, this means I’ve just reached the editing summit and am about to start gloriously frolicking down the other side. The lure of the writing has been the light at the end of my ‘plotting’ tunnel, and it will be so much easier due to the tooth pulling work I’ve just done.
There’s a great guest post over on Rachelle Gardner’s blog talking about this exact process. It’s called ‘The Hell Formerly Known as Editing’, and Terry Brennan discusses the editorial process he went through after selling his first book. He’s refreshingly open about just how tough it’s been. It’s certainly not for the faint hearted, but we all need a little brutal honesty every now and then.
I know most of the time I need to believe that writing is wonderful and exhilarating and a constant source of joy, but if you’re serious about this (and are aiming for publication), this also needs to be balanced by the knowledge that some bits of writing are just plain hard work. So, protective gloves on, helmet buckled tightly, safety goggles in place, and back into the fray!