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My editing hell

Creative WritingPosted by Barbara Sat, November 07, 2015 19:38:06


Oh, how I hate it.

I am such a typical teacher: do as I say, not as I do.

I tell writing students again and again how nothing comes out perfect in an early draft. I reassure them that even the most experienced and highly-regarded writers have to edit until their eyes bleed before their work is good enough for publication.*

I beat my students round the head with instructions on macro-editing (structure, plot, character) and micro-editing (word choice, repetition, typos etc). I tick them off for not reading over their work before they send it. Writing is all about the editing, or so I allege.

Only… here I am. Editing. And wishing I could do something more enjoyable, like eat glass or repeatedly slam a door on my fingers.

Editing, for me, is the creative equivalent of eating my greens or taking physical exercise. I know it’s good for me, but I only do it because I absolutely have to.

The unusual situation this time is that I am editing with the advice of an agent. I’ve never worked with an agent before, so I had the vague impression that they just took your book and tried to flog it. The editorial input was unexpected.

The other shocking thing is that the ideas this agent has about the book are good ones (grrr). That’s not because I don’t think agents know their markets – they do, of course, or they’d all be out of business. But I was taken by surprise, because he’s pointed out things that I should have thought of myself and he’s come up with suggestions that I know will improve the novel.

Like I said: grrr. It would be easier if I disagreed. But as I have to admit that he’s right, then I know I need to make changes.

In particular, I need to rewrite the ending. Changing the ending means I have to change lots of things throughout the manuscript, in order for it to make sense. So it is not a quick job and it’s taking me a truly ridiculous amount of time. As well as being a typical teacher, I am also still a typical journalist and the lack of a firm deadline means very little progress is being made.

Like any unwanted task, it sits on my shoulders every day and prevents me from doing new writing. Or blogging (hence the long silence here). It’s my best intention to finish these edits by the end of this year and then the tenor of my posts should lighten quite a bit – and the frequency should improve.

Bear with…

*OK, maybe some writers get away with less than attentive editing, but you have to be pretty special – mentioning no names, but I have in mind a certain series involving a boy wizard.

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