Editing can be … fun?

“As a writer you ask yourself to dream while awake.”
~Aimee Bender

First, a disclaimer: it’s about a zillion degrees in Pennsylvania (okay, ninety-five, but the heat index is over a hundred and that’s close enough to a zillion, right?), I spent so long editing today that my eyeballs feel like they might start bleeding at any moment, and the combination of the two aforementioned things is giving me an oh-so-lovely headache. Therefore, this post may or may not make an iota of sense. Consider yourself warned.

I wanted to talk a little about how SOT’s revisions are going, though. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I find drafting to be infinitely more fun than editing. It’s not that I don’t enjoy polishing a story, tightening it up and removing all the excess, but nothing compares to the pure joy and exhilaration of spinning those first words across the pages. I will always love the writing most. And still, something funny is happening this time around … I’m actually having a blast going through every chapter. I’m devoting a day to each, which feels tedious at times but also lets me really focus on getting out every last deletable piece. My goal has been to cut five hundred words per chapter, and with the exception of three days, I’ve been reaching that. Most times I end up over six hundred. Today? Nine hundred and twenty two. I might have cheered upon checking the word count. Ha.

This draft was much more concise than my others from the get-go. And still, I’m finding lots to cut. Maybe that’s because I’ve had so much practice editing over the years. Maybe it’s because I no longer loathe the ‘delete’ key. Maybe it’s because I’ve learned that while the individual trees are important, so is the forest … and while the forest is important, so are the individual trees. Sometimes less really can be more – and sometimes less means you can actually add to a manuscript during edits instead of only chopping. Can I just tell you guys how EXCITING it is to be able to do that this time? Having the wiggle room to throw in some new quirks, some new ideas, some new passages … it has been absolutely awesome. It might mean that I get distracted looking at pictures of emerald and diamond eternity bands on Google (Charlotte’s getting one that matches her engagement ring from fifty-six years earlier, and I am totally jealous. That’s normal, right, to be envious of fictional characters?), but that’s okay. Fun, fun, fun.

So far I have gone through thirteen chapters (out of thirty-five) and deleted over eight thousand words. That puts me on track to surpass my target word count goal by more than five thousand. Of course that may change as I continue working – there are definitely some chapters that are longer and have less to cut – but still, I’m quite pleased with how things are progressing on the editing front. Completely makes the eye strain worth it. I’ve been so enthusiastic about this book since the very beginning, and I swear, it’s somehow increasing daily. I genuinely love this set of characters and can’t wait for the chance to share their stories.

The only problem? Remi and Eli live in Nantucket. Charlotte and Nolan live in Atlantic City. Hanging out in their worlds every day isn’t exactly aiding my desire to ride out this heat wave at the shore. If only I could win the lottery already and buy that beach house … ;-) In the meantime, I’ll “settle” for dreaming while awake: not only of glistening ocean waves and a sea breeze twisted with salty ribbons, but also of this book. Because, truly … even editing it feels like a dream-come-true.


17 thoughts on “Editing can be … fun?

  1. The head index? Oh dear that does sound awful. ;P

    WOW I can’t believe how fast you’ve drafted, and now how quickly you’re editing too. Meanwhile I take like a week to do 5 pages… lol? Anyhoodles, it’s awesome, and inspiring, and I’m so glad you’re so in love with your story! I can’t wait to read it someday. :)

    • Hahahahahaha … oops. Told you the post might not make any sense! ;-)

      You know, one of the most important things I’ve learned over the years is how different the writing/editing process is – not just for each person, but even for each book. A few manuscripts ago I never could have kept up this pace for revisions without wanting to put my head through a wall. If five pages per week is what works for you, then that’s exactly what you should do. I totally want to read yours when it’s finished, too — book swap?! :-)

  2. With all the medical advances we’ve made, you would THINK there would be products sold exclusively to writers – something to “rejuvenate” our eyeballs and brains after a long day of staring at the screen, high-powered relaxants to shake off the stiffness from sitting in a certain position for so long, etc. :)

    I’m so happy to hear that your revisions are going well. And you’re so right – even though editing is a loooooong process, sometimes bumping down the word count means that you get to add something else to the story, something that – once you’ve incorporated it – feels like it was there from the beginning, or should have been. It just…belongs, and something like that would never have happened if you (and other authors) didn’t spend so much time going back to where it all began. I too now can appreciate the delete key a bit more – it’s not something to fear if something even more beautiful comes back in its place (that said: I’ll just be sitting here not-so-patiently waiting to see the revised version!). So proud of you for how hard you’re working on this wonderful book of yours. You, more than anyone else I know, make writing sound like a dream come true, as those we are the lucky ones. Maybe we are.

    Also: “a sea breeze twisted with salty ribbons” is a beautiful description.

    • YES. Someone needs to get on that, stat. I do have excellent drops that my eye doctor prescribed, and I tend to use them daily while editing – for some reason that bothers my eyes more, I guess because I’m staring so intently at the screen while scrutinizing every sentence. Even so, though, I’m actually enjoying it this time. I adore what you said about not fearing the deletions if they mean something more beautiful can grow in their place. It’s a tough lesson to learn, but an important one.

      P.S. I’m almost finished with ITW, too — just seventy pages left. I’ll have it to you soon!
      P.P.S. I <3 that you want to read the revised version also. You are the best!

  3. girl we’ve got the same heat problem, and the air in our office doesn’t work right. I feel like I might pass out.

    You are growing even more as a writer with this edit. As if you needed any more growth! Keep on going!

    • Oh goodness, no air conditioning in this weather is just awful. I saw your FB post about not feeling well — hope you’re doing much better now.

      I think that’s one of my favorite things about writing, getting to grow with each book!

  4. It is so hot. SO HOT. I can’t even walk outside for 10 minutes without sweating profusely. My friends in Texas are laughing because we consider 90s a “heat wave,” but seriously, it should not be possible to be so hot in the Northeast. ANYWAY. So happy that you are loving the editing process! I went through something similar when I was revising PPP. I think that if we really love a story, we want to make it into the best story it can possibly be, so revisions turns out to be fun/rewarding. Chop chop chop away!

    • It is RIDICULOUS. My sister teaches dance at a performing arts camp and they had a recital today. Three hours in the heat and I seriously thought I was going to melt. A heat index of 107 is SO NOT FUN.

      I completely agree — when a story works its way into your heart, you’re willing to do whatever it takes to make it the best possible version of itself. If that means chopping away and editing until you can’t see straight … well, it’s still totally worth it! :)

  5. I’m glad you’re having so much fun with the editing process. Having a less lofty goal of words to cut must help a ton! :) I can’t wait to hear about the little pieces you’re adding to this draft!!

    • It helps SO MUCH, oh my gosh. I was originally intending to cut it down to 110,000 but I think I’ll be able to go even lower — and that includes adding in the new tidbits! Yay!

  6. I was in Florida when you were having your heat wave. It was mild and rainy. At least I didn’t get sunburnt.

    I agree on the edits. I love writing the first drafts – there’s something about the initial creative process that makes me happy. Revisions are a lot of work. It would be hard to have to cut thousands of words. Ugghh.

    • Not getting sunburned is a definite (major!) plus. As someone who always manages to burn no matter how much sunblock I put on, I can totally relate.

      I know some writers don’t like the drafting process as much as revisions, but I agree with you completely – it’s such a happy, creative, free time. Love, love, love it. Cutting thousands of words? Not quite as euphoric an experience. :P

  7. Pingback: Tuesday’s Tunes: KC & M5 Edition. | Shari Speaks

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