Editing. It’s a Process. And it Sucks.

I started on Monday. I didn’t even want to. I was dreading the process. Even though my manuscript is only 100 Microsoft Word pages, it seemed like a crappy task to take on. Did I really need to edit my work for one last time? I kept asking myself that question. I paid an experienced editor some good money to edit my novel. He did a good job, but with his recommendations and some loose ends that I wanted to clear up, the tedious task needed to be done. Editing your own work is some hard shit. That is in fact the reason why my first novel isn’t on Amazon right now. It scares the shit out me. The whole editing process is like looking at yourself in the mirror and training yourself to look for every single problem of yourself. Kind of depressing, if you ask me.

So I started on Monday. Did the first two pages! I don’t think I edited anything. It sounded and looked fine. I told myself that I could pick up the pace and do 3-4 pages a day and should be done with the grueling process by the end of the month. Tuesday was a little bit more involved. I think I spent an hour on one page. Same thing with Wednesday. A good day, but just got through one page. My head was spinning, but I was knocking out page after page each and every day. Something about the process started to get to me on Thursday, though. I spent 3 damn hours on a page. I thought about the character and wondered if they would say that. I wonder if my words were too basic for the scene and didn’t reflect who the sub-character was. Then I started to wonder what the fuck my editor did to my manuscript. I wondered if he did enough work or would I need another editor to look at it. Perhaps I needed to stop editing and give it to another editor. I needed and wanted them to spice up the writing even more. I’m sure my blood pressure was rising and I just needed to talk to someone who went through the very same thing. I told my wife when I got home that I needed another set of eyes on it. I needed another edit. Then she looked at me and told me that I needed to look at my own writing and make the decisions to mold it more into my eyes. She continued on by telling me that I didn’t need an editor right now, I needed to be the editor of my work because the writing is in fact my words and story. I stopped for a minute. Questioned her logic. And tried to trust her words and opened up my manuscript and started reading from the beginning of what I’ve already edited and felt like a child, who only played outside for fun and enjoyment, fall in love with imagining a new world through reading. I laughed at some scenes, I wanted to know more about what was going to happen next and I knew that what she was saying was true.

A Little Secret About Editing

Editing still sucks ass. It just does. Reading, re-reading, editing, going back and seeing if it makes sense, looking through the thesaurus and googling everything in sight to see if the transitions make sense is exhausting and at the end of the day you look up and see that you have only finished one page is so damn depressing. I almost feel, with my limited editing experience, if I need to edit what I’m writing right now. But it is needed. It is a process that will teach you about yourself, writing and the language of communicating a story to another person. It is where, words will come together and every piece of the puzzle will make the words look like they are dancing and in harmony because everything went together because it was supposed to.
I’m sure still, once the process is done. I will have more questions than answers. But I know for sure that I will feel more confident with the focus and message and true bliss of the art of making something okay great and enjoyable to not only me, but to others—even if all they do is only read a couple of words of the first page.

2 responses to “Editing. It’s a Process. And it Sucks.”

  1. Thank you so much for this!! I am drowning at the moment. Complete novice, finished my first draft about 6 weeks ago, and feel totally in the wilderness about the editing process. Lots of “show dont tell” and “indent your opening line” type of advice in books everywhere, but NO ONE seems to talk about the actual process – how to sit down, and get started, structure, the process itself. I have been asking myself “oh God, is this right? How the hell do I bring that critic back in the room after spending so long pushing it out in order to get the first draft down.” So, OK, maybe its not great news to see that the editing process can be just as much, if not more, agony than writing the draft. God, who’d be a writer?!!! Still, this is it – cant do anything else!! So, thanks again for your honesty – and for your wife’s wisdom!!

  2. Vicki,

    I’m thankful that you found inspiration and insight into the world of editing through my experience. If you have started the process of editing, just take your time and remember the reason why you are doing it. If you haven’t started yet, take a couple of weeks away from it all. The time away will help rework your mind and also give you some far-sighted vision to your editing and an honest one, too.

    I’m glad that I did the editing. But it makes me wonder what I enjoy the most: is it the creation of the story and connecting the dots from one phase or character to the next or the comforting feeling of being in solitude doing something for myself. The reason why I have these constant thoughts is because it took 25 days to make the outline for my book, only 11 days to write the thing and another 6-7 weeks to do the editing. Sure there is plenty of writing, but I think it was more thinking and rereading and being honest with oneself. Even in writing, the performance and act is 20% and the rest is everything else that makes it great. Great in your eyes.

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