Tuesday 1 April 2014

The joys of editing

I know. Me saying "the joy of editing" is a bit like starting off on the pleasure of unassisted ocular surgery. But in this case, it's actually true. Self-editing is usually my least favourite part of the process, though it's obviously necessary.

In this case, though, the book's been sitting untouched on my harddrive since 2009. I thought it was a write-off, but I re-read it to ascertain just how bad it would be re-vamping it. And the truth is - the story is good. The characters are even very good. And the writing doesn't sound like me very much, but it has moments of brilliance. It also has a million tangents and repetitions and loose plot threads that I never really cleaned up. It was a book I pantsed, so I didn't really know where it was going, but it has a really quite special energy and mood, so I've been at it for a bout two weeks now, chipping away and applying what I've learned from my editors in the meantime.

And it's fun. Five years later, I have zero emotional or ego attachment to any of the scenes or sentences. (Though I still love those characters, hard.) There's moments when I roll my eyes at my younger self - "Oh, author really thinks he's being clever here" - and that's okay. I was a different person when I wrote it, and I now have the skills to fix this book, and most of the fixing is on the pacing/language level. It's amazing to see the story emerge from this fairly rough draft. And it's a luxury to have that amount of distance--a luxury rarely afforded in this "fast turnaround" type of publishing. I mean, I'm impatient with the worst of them.

So, yeah. This one's fun. It's also beautifully responsive and trusting. It's a breathing thing, this book, and it's so rewarding to polish it up. If wish self-editing were like this every time, because then I could really get into it. Fingers crossed.

ETA: NOT an April Fool. Honest. (I should check the calendar before I post stuff like this...)


  1. I'm glad the story has a good core and you can polish it up ^__^ I've had to ditch a few myself, always sucks. It's always amusing to look back at old works and go 'no, self, no.'

  2. Ain't that the truth. LOL. :) Though I'm finding I can usually salvage at least some characters and ideas...