The Tricky Thing About Editing

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I’m feeling guilty for not updating enough, so voila, this post!  Granted I literally have done nothing worth updating about, except maybe add to my list of books I’ve read recently, but still.  When I don’t update for awhile, it makes me scared that I will lose all of my followers, and maybe my hair will fall out.  I WANT NEITHER OF THOSE THINGS TO HAPPEN.  So here’s a post about my editing struggles with LOG!

I’m not sure what I expected about the editing process.  As I’ve probably mentioned, I never really got that far.  I mean, I would edit the crap out of a chapter or two of a project, but does that really count when you’re not 100% sure where it’s all going?  It was more cosmetic than anything.  Word choice.  Grammar.  Spelling.  The technical stuff.  Not this intense, ongoing struggle for content editing.  This is a whole new ballpark, man.

And it’s really kind of hard.

Something you should probably know about me is that I’m the person who will mess with something until I totally f**k the whole thing up.  Literally, I don’t know when to stop.  And that’s the really tricky thing about editing, to me.  When you sit down to write a book, you know where you’re starting.  Maybe it doesn’t end up being the RIGHT place to start, but again, that’s for editing.  You probably know where you’re going to end up too.  Sometimes the middle is murky, but it doesn’t really matter.  The point is, if you get from point A to point B, you know that you’re done.

You finished.  You wrote the book.

Editing ISN’T LIKE THAT AT ALL.

There’s no set ending point in sight.  You make a list of things that have amassed as you’ve been working on your project; personal notes, vague thoughts from the shower, your insights from recent delving into the psyche of your bad guy, comments from early beta-readers, and so on.  So that when you’ve finished writing, and you actually sit down ‘to edit,’ you have a giant, jumbled mess of things that need to be fixed.

So you start patching things up, and you think it’ll be like fixing holes on a leaky roof.  Only so many holes, right?  WRONG.  It spontaneously makes holes even as you’re fixing the old ones.  You realize that if you add that new chapter, which (you’re pretty sure, like maybe 90%, or sometimes 74%,) is the BEST WAY to start, then you’ll have to go back through and weave in stuff that relates to this new bit of information, so it doesn’t seem like it’s hanging in space and totally unrelated.  Or you realize a really sweet theme that should be in the book, but again, that needs to be ADDED.  So you start doing that, and you’re still fixing everything else.  Of course, there’s that sense you’re supposed to be CUTTING stuff instead of sticking all this new stuff in, so even while you’re adding things you’re trying to take some out. 

Honestly, it’s really exhausting, and you tend to feel like you haven’t gotten anywhere.

And even then, you’re always wondering: Is this right?  Is this the best it can be?  While at the same time sure that if you have to read that chapter ONE MORE TIME, you’ll probably blow your brains out, because you’ve already changed it like 38 times and you’re not doing it anymore, damn it!

In my case, I wonder whether I’ll even recognize ‘done’ when it happens, or if I’ll just keep changing minute details for all eternity, never really publishing it because I won’t be able to stand a concrete version that I can’t change anymore, that has to be THE ONE.  What if it’s not done?

And quite frankly, I don’t have an answer.  Sorry if you were hoping this post was going to raise an issue and then solve it, because nope, I’m really pretty clueless.  You read published stories, knowing full well that’s not how they started out… And yet they seem so perfect, you really want to hate them.  You want to sit the author down and demand how they knew it was done, and that it wasn’t done 4 revisions ago, or that they didn’t need to change anything else.  

Or maybe it’s just me.

I guess only time will tell how this whole process will work out.  I’ve tried to give myself every opportunity to fix things before Time To Publish–I read it to my writer’s group, I’m editing it as I publish it on JukePop, and I’ll have at least 2 more rounds of readers before I’m finished. 

But there’s still that wish that there was some kind of flashing, neon sign at the end of the tunnel, telling me that I’ve officially finished editing.

There aren’t enough neon signs in life.

So I guess I’ll just have to go with my gut.

Celeste

And in unrelated hilarity, Disney princess retouched photos. x)

Pocahontas:

9 Unretouched Photos Of Disney Princesses That Disney Didn't Want You To See

For more: http://www.buzzfeed.com/jenlewis/unretouched-photos-of-disney-princesses

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8 thoughts on “The Tricky Thing About Editing

  1. You have described this harrowing process perfectly. A leaky boat it is. Keep bucketing it out, you will get there.

    • That’s a great analogy too! Dang, I wish I’d used it. But thank you for the encouragement, which I guess is the best I can hope for, and use it to hearten myself for the journey ahead. I mean, I’m excited to be navigating my first ever ACTUAL EDITING… but still, some direction would be nice! xD I have no idea if I know what I’m doing!! Ever!

  2. Welcome to my nightmare! You described it exactly the way I feel. I don’t have an answer either, only that my plan was to send it to a paid editor before I call ‘done.’ I don’t trust my editing process enough to be sure of what I’m doing.

    • Right?? It’s so frustrating! But I’m probably going to have to do the same. I was hoping to avoid that, but I’m just so new to the whole thing that I’m not sure my gut knows up from down anymore, and it DEFINITELY won’t on the 50th pass-through when I’m not even sure what’s what anymore. At that point, I’ll probably have to call in the big guns and hope that I’m not TOO far off the mark.
      But it’s nice to know I’m not alone in these feelings, ha ha!

  3. Editing is the worst part of the writing process, hands down. I did tell you how I spent 6 years editing my book, right? Gah. I think the easiest way to do it is in rounds, with a checklist. Every time you sit down, have a checklist of things you need to accomplish. And then once you do them, send out your book to a round of readers. Get the comments back, rinse and repeat. It’s frustrating and time consuming, but … I don’t know, it works for me 😀

    • Oh, yeah, I guess you’re right. xD I guess since I started following your blog right before you published, it was easy to forget that whole 6 years of editing bit. Yeesh! They should put a warning label on writing. “May inadvertently drive you nuts.” *sigh* But you’re right. Best way to do it is just buckle down with my list, go through, go through again, go through again… x)
      But if I don’t do it it’ll never get done, and that would just be a tragedy!

      • That would be a tragedy!!! I wonder if I have any more info floating around in my brain that’s of use to you … I mean, the only editing thing I can think of right now is that, on the first major editing round, you should ignore little things and focus on the big picture — i.e., is the plot fluid, exciting, etc., do the characters stay consistent in their actions/speech patterns/reactions to things, etc. I highly advise this step, because, as you know, I skipped it and now I’m in re-writing hell, lol.

      • Yes, divulge your wisdom to me! x) Thanks for the tip, ha ha. I’ll try to remember that. I do tend to bog myself down in the minutiae and don’t get around to the big-picture items, and I shall endeavor not to skip that step, since it ALREADY feels like I’m in re-write hell and I don’t want to stay there longer than necessary. xD

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