Editing: A Love-Hate Relationship

I’ve just moved from doing a lot of writing to not doing much writing at all, and at the same time poised on the edge overlooking a great chasm . . . of editing.

I have a true love-hate relationship with editing. You can’t be an effective writer without being a good editor, so you’ve got to suck it up and do it. And do it well. Without whining and bitching about it. But.

What I love about editing:

  1. I love good writing. A well-written sentence is a piece of dark chocolate wrapped in a rainbow and sprinkled with a twist of imagination. I love to read something I wrote sometime in the past and think, “Hey! This is good!”
  2. There is something immensely satisfying in completing a good rewrite and knowing that what you’ve finished is way better than when you started.
  3. My father taught me to appreciate good craftsmanship. I’ll never be as good as he was: don’t have the patience. He could take more time sanding a drawer front than I was willing to spend on an entire piece of furniture. But I learned to appreciate the beauty of something done well.
  4. Editing happens in big chunks. You can see real progress in a hurry. It puts you closer to publication in steps that you can immediately appreciate.

What I hate about editing:

  1. It’s not writing. It takes away writing time and spends it on something that isn’t writing.
  2. It’s simply not as creative. The best sentences that comes out of a rewrite are every bit as creative, and take every  bit as much imagination, as those that come out of a first draft. There just aren’t as many of them. For me, anyway.
  3. Expanding on #2. For me, editing doesn’t consistently engage the subconscious. Your invisible friends don’t get to run and frolic in the meadow. Mostly it’s you and your English teacher, although some days it’s Spring and you get to hold class outside.
  4. It’s not writing.

The Adventures of Sir Kay will be fun to edit. I have some fundamental problems to work out. The conflict between Kay and Aggravaine needs serious expansion. In the first draft, the reader doesn’t appreciate how screwed up Kay is; that, for the first time in his life, he doesn’t have any idea how to accomplish something. More tension. Etc.

But it has good bones. And a lot of really good sentences already. Just needs some love.

AND WAY TOO MUCH OF MY WRITING TIME.

And then on top of that . . .

If my next project is to rewrite Bradley Schuster and the Holy Grail, that will be 20% writing and 80% editing. Back to back! Aargh. And worse, no matter when I decide to do it, it will always be back to back with something.

I can’t imagine being able to juggle revising Bradley Schuster and writing a new novel at the same time. I know, I’ve been editing one book while writing another for several novels now. But it’s going to need my undivided attention, at least for a while.

And then the final straw: I just finished the second pass of edits on Strange Bedfellows with my editor.

I hate editing.

Good thing I love it.

ps: if your retirement account needs a little boost, buy some stock in a company that makes red ink.

edited page 2

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8 thoughts on “Editing: A Love-Hate Relationship

  1. You capture the push-pull perfectly . . . love-it-hate-it . . . heaven-hell. I love the satisfaction of knowing a piece of writing is better, much better. I love playing with my imaginary friends far more.

    The picture is intimidating. Not for the sea of red ink, but for the apparent ease with which the editor improved the writing with strike outs. Note to self: less is more.

  2. What an editor might love about editing:
    1. I also love good writing. It’s art.
    2. It is ever so satisfying to watch something get better.
    3. There’s nothing like the feeling of getting in an author’s head and enjoying the ride.
    4. Editing has to happen in BIG FAT CHUNKS.

    What an editor might hate about editing:
    Hmmm.

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