The Editing Process
I constantly self-edit. Every morning before I start writing, I re-read the last few chapters completed so far. Like Hemingway, I have found that it keeps me focused on the details of the story and helps prevent writer’s block. I try to read my writing as objectively as possible. No line is spared. Even the words I am the proudest of are scrutinized. Is there a better way to say this? Do I need that comma? Is there a better and more accurate word I can use here? I am like an oyster, slowly adding layers onto my story until I have a beautiful pearl. It can be a long and painful process. Sometimes it feels as if I am losing a little piece of myself as I change lines that I was so proud of only days before. I tell myself that it is a necessary part of the work. Time and perspective, as well as occasionally reading something aloud, helps guide the changes that I have to make.
I love that both writing and editing are called processes. They truly are a series of steps that we take to get to the best version of our work. Writing is my first love, but I believe editing is an ongoing part of shaping the story into what it will become. Without it, my writing would be riddled with typos, misspellings, awkward lines, and lost opportunities to say something in a better and more interesting way. Editing makes me a better writer, and my words more interesting to read.
At work, I have a boss who edits my work. He does it in the traditional style, printing everything out and red-penning with all that proofreader shorthand. His eye for good writing is incredible. I sometimes wish I was as good as he is. However, I know part of the reason he is so successful is that he is detached from the writing process—his job is like the unfeeling and unrelenting ocean, smashing a bottle and smoothing it down until it is beautiful beach glass. I have yet to learn how to be so detached; besides, I would miss writing too much.
Here at home, it is just me going over my novel and making the changes. I may hire an editor when I am finally done with everything, even if I end up having to self-publish. Or should I say, especially if I have to self-publish! I would just like to get another, more professional set of eyes on it. No one else has actually read any of it so far because I’ve written it in bits and pieces, skipping around as I see the scenes in my head. I have files scattered all over my hard drive. I don’t know if it would be a good use of anyone’s time to read it until I can put all the pieces together.
Well, that’s my two cents. Time to get on with my writing for the day!