The Editing Process Begins to Unfold.

So I have started the daunting task of editing my novel – all ninety-thousand words of it.  I was dreading it for a long time, putting it off in favour of a smaller work, or in continuation of the new novel; but I could hear its voice whispering to me from the box-file that was sitting under the bed:  “It’s time,’ it said in a hushed tone.

I pulled it out, worried about what I might find: would I like it?  Would my writing style have changed?  Would the characters feel rounded?  Would I still give a shit about any of it?

Now the first few pages, (particularly the first paragraph) of anything I write needs quite a bit of re-shaping.  It’s where the initial spill off an idea falls onto the page, and like any spill, a lot of it needs to be wiped up for sanitary reasons.  So I hit this bit hard, got the prose tight, syntax slick, and after a little while I found I had the beginnings of a story; not a bad one either, (I thought anyway).

Then the story starts to flow and the editing becomes finer and I can feel the cleansing process begin.  I’m washing away the dirt of the first draft and letting the story shine.

Now I think that one of the reasons that it took me so long to getting around to editing this story, (I finished writing it just before christmas; but it is probably the right length of time thinking about it now), is because I felt that I was treading old ground with it.  And that is the trouble.  As I’ve mentioned before, time at the moment is a little bit precious, so I have to be clever with it and ration it out carefully, and that means that returning to an old story, in favour of a new one, feels like I’m not creating anything new, and that I wouldn’t really be writing.  But I was wrong.  As I was editing, I realised that this was where the real writing was taking place; the first draft was just getting the story out – this was crafting and shaping words into nicely formed sentences and paragraphs, which is, after all, what writing is all about.

So my view of editing has changed.  I don’t see it as a laborious and necessary re-trudging of old ground, but as an integral and vitally important part of writing that works towards cementing the story firmly in place.  I know that this might sound obvious, but to me it’s good to feel that shift and believe it, too.

I hope that this positivity last through until the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh draft.

Any thought on this process yourselves?


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One Response to The Editing Process Begins to Unfold.

  1. emilyramos says:

    I know what you mean about feeling like editing doesn’t create anything new. I have the same problem, though the more I work on my drafts the more immersed in the world I get. At this point (I’m on draft five) I can’t imagine letting another story take precedence (though I have some that I am working a little bit on). I want to get this story right before I move on.
    All I can say is keep going! Editing and rewriting is a lot of hard work, but it is worth it every time you get a little bit closer to your goal.
    Good luck!

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