Ah, two wake ups and I’m home for a three day weekend. Can’t come to soon, to be honest; this week is dragging so slowly. Until then it’s sitting and writing–oh, and taxes, too. Isn’t it always? The sitting and taxes aren’t anything you want to hear, so lets move onto something that might be a little more interesting.
Editing is such a strange beast. Writing is creating; editing is the act of reconstruction, taking an existing structure and seeing what needs to be torn out, saving what can be saved, and adding where it makes sense. It’s the one thing in the last year that I’ve truly had to get use to doing, and it’s beginning to develop as a true art.
There wasn’t a time when I used to think I never needed this. This is because my first drafts are very good. No, really, they are. If you’ve seen some of my excerpts that have come straight out of Scrivener, you might have noticed that they are fairly clean and easy to read. There was a time when I used to believe that my first drafts were so good that I didn’t need to edit them–and for some stories, that was very true. After all, I was writing fetish fiction for online sites that catered to people with somewhat unusual fantasies. It wasn’t as if I expected to receive a Pulitzer for any of the stories I was writing then.
That was years ago, however–five, six, maybe seven years in the past. Now I’ve discovered I have the knack to create stores that people might actually want to read, maybe even pay for, and, as it is said, that makes you feel the need to take your endeavors to another level.
I’m in the process of editing Couples Dance, and the first three chapters and down and away. And I’m struck by two things: one, how well the story is working for me–and two, how badly some of what I wrote needed a damn good rewriting.
Don’t get me wrong. Like I said yesterday, I no long look at my work as if everything I do sucks hard. I was like that for a very long time. ”Oh, I can’t finish this,” I’d think. ”It sucks so much. This is such crap.” That was pretty much my attitude for just about everything in my life, however, and trying to convince myself that what I’d written was “good” was sometimes a lost cause.
Now I have a much more refined eye. I don’t believe everything I’m writing is made of rainbows and unicorn kisses; oh, no. But when I look a story, I’m not falling into some instant despair (I should market that for up and coming writers: ”Come on down and buy your Instant Despairtm! Why wait!”) that makes me want to delete it from my hard drive.
It can be a long, hard, drawn out process. It’s not a lot of fun. You have to read, and read, and read. Yes, you need to hear what you wrote, listen to the sound, the flow, the rhythm, and if something seems out of place, you fix it. I got into a paragraph the other night, and I spent twenty minutes getting it right. It was only thirty or so words, but when I read it the first time it didn’t seem right. And it didn’t seem right the second or third time. After I’d read it and re-read it about a dozen times was I finally happy.
It’s not something the old me would have allowed, or even cared about. But I’m hanging with the writing crowd now, and some of them have seen my work . . . and they’ve proclaimed it good.
It’s now my job to make it better. Because, like it or not, all us writers are word flippers. We take a story, look at it, fix it up, and try to get it off the market as soon as possible.
“Flip This Novel”. I could sell that to TLC, you know?
So, here we are, Number 299 reading now you are (urrummmmm), and tomorrow comes post 3oo. What will I have to say?
Don’t look at me; I hardly know what I’m going to do in the next ten minutes–