Editing: A Process

Editing is a strange process.

This week I cut a story down from 9000 words to half its size.  It was almost as if I was smashing in a work of pottery still on the wheel in order to build a better vessel with the same clay.

Now the story is a skeleton of what it was and it’s still a difficult story.  I sense I will need a bit of feedback before I set about the difficulties of putting some of the flesh back onto it.

This week has been another key to my personal preparation for going through the novelette I wrote.  One more step in a series that began two years ago.

In late 2015 and early 2016 I wrote a full length novel, tried to edit it, and then realized I needed more experience in this craft before tackling the revisions on this book, the first in a planned epic fantasy trilogy.  So I went about trying out different ideas and tackling shorter length works in an effort to find my own voice and get a feel for what works as  a writer.

I’m in a stage where I feel like my writing is as fluid as ocean waves.  Some of my writing is razor focused and only needs a few edits on details while other pieces require a great deal more thought and change.

The trick has become learning how best to read those waves and channel the story through them.

I’m not writing this as someone who has figured it out yet.  But I am posting this as someone who is beginning to see a way through the maelstrom that is editing.

Word Count Goals and Revisions

One of the stories I am working I have been working on in the back of my mind for the last ten years.  They are two very separate ideas that converged about five years ago.

That being said, it was not until I placed my butt firmly on a chair in front of a keyboard and computer that anything really began taking shape in story form.  There had always existed about a dozen free-writes in different files on my computer or in my notebooks, but never a story from start to end.

So roughly a year ago, a friend of mine (who already knew I have some writing projects of my own) asked if I wanted to join a writing group.  I said yes, initiating my first kick in the rear to get working on it.  Working with the group helped set in motion more scenes and world-building, laying down the preparation for the first draft.

The second jump-start was NaNoWriMo.  The word count goal placed upon me every day was extremely liberating and also ignited my competitive side.  As much as I would like to say I can do things without direction, I have always been more productive when given structure and faced with deadlines.

By December I had added 50,000 words to the 16,000 already existing.  And then by February I had hit approximately 118,000 total.

However, I have noticed myself struggling since I wrote the words “The End.”  It’s not that I haven’t been working on it, but revisions for me are much less measurable in creating goals.  The combination with my day job growing busier with the nearing summer season and lack of visible progress on the novel, I am growing frustrated.

I have to constantly remind myself this project is not paying the bills right now, in fact it may never pay the bills so it is ok my focus is on my day job at the moment.  The self talk tends to go on like this: “Ease up a bit on yourself, you’ve completed a read-through, you’re progressing on detailed notes and edits, and you have some very serious rewriting to do but you’re already working on the plan for those scenes.”

Judging from the blogs and articles I’ve read, I take small comfort in knowing I’m not the only one who has problems like these.

I already knew writing was going to be hard work but I had no idea how hard editing and revisions were going to be. Whatever tricks I learn I will be sharing here, because no one should go writing alone.