We’ve all been there…well, at least I have, and I have to say, if you haven’t been, then I bow down to your awesomeness.
No seriously, if you, as a writer, have never had this (see video below…it’s less than 2 minutes and hilarious) exact moment, you are extremely lucky.
It’s no secret that for most writers, editing can be a bane of their existence. That is, of course, after writing a back of the book blurb or the ever-dreaded synopsis. Most of my writer friends loathe the editing part of finishing a manuscript. Instead, they love to dwell in the newness of writing a fresh scene or chapter.
I, on the other hand, love editing. Well, most days I do. Sure, I have moments where I just want to bang my head against the wall, or moments where if I was really reading a paper version of my novel, I would dunk it in booze and light it on fire.
A good rule of thumb for any author to remember is any current work in progress should never be near any open container of hooch. Never. As Ernest Hemmingway said, “Write drunk, edit sober.”
So, yes, I’m one of those weird writers who actually prefer editing to writing new scenes and chapters. I don’t know why. I just love the cleanup. I love the challenge of making sentences tighter and crisper.
I love stretching my imagination in a particular scene to add even more depth to each sense of sight, smell, hearing, and touch. What can I add that would just suck the reader in so they were standing with my characters and living in their moment?
To me, the polishing and editing are where the story most comes alive—especially, if you are like me and after you finish the rough draft of a chapter, you use the editing stage to add depth.
Once you get that nitty-gritty, mind gunk out on the paper, all the mess of thoughts on how you want the chapter to go and a general path the conversation will travel toward, you can concentrate on adding the texture that makes the story soar. The twists and turns of the conversation and the details that you didn’t think of when you first laid the scene out.
Of course, just like Melissa’s character Molly, editing is also where you can find the WTF moments, like going from falling in love in Tudor, England to fighting Space Vampires. You know those moments where after read either a sentence, paragraph, page, or even a whole chapter, your only form of self-reliance is to huddle in the corner and cry because of the absolute stupidity of your work is too much to handle.
What were you thinking when you wrote this? Were you out of your mind? Obviously, you should just walk away from your computer and never touch it again, right? Because baby, you’re killing your manuscript. Killing it! You should just lock the handcuffs and put on the striped suit because you’re going down for murder.
Yeah, that’s when you start pouring the hooch and become this statuesque figure that starts to make your hubs fearful for your health.
Oh, yes, I’ve been there.
I suppose that’s just part of the process. The good with the bad, or the bad with the good. Is it ever really bad, though? I mean, this is our passion. This is our life. Writing is what we do, what we want to do, and what (even with contradicting moments) keeps us sane?
Sure, editing is always full of such a range of emotions that will give you more whiplash than Edward gave Bella in Twilight. However, it’s part of what we do to get to that final step—the moment when the book is delivered into the readers’ hands!