Why Editing is Hard

Blog Post No. 445

blhnI’m about a third of the way though the second draft of the Invasion Novel. It’s taking me longer than I would like, but making it this far feels like a good start. I would still like to get the story in much better shape by the end of July and to do that, I have to move faster. I’ve said it a bunch (but that never stops me from saying things again) but I plan on starting the fifth novella (Snow From a Distant Sky) in August, so time is limited. I plan on taking a break from the novellas after this one, but that is stuff for me to worry about later. For now, I have two more months to make some progress with this (still way too long) novel.

Editing is not as fun as writing. There is a certain satisfaction when you actually manage to make something, that initially felt rushed and incomplete, a little better, but it’s tough on the old ego to have so much to actually fix. Every writer has their own quirks that have to be dealt with in the edit. I tend to repeat myself. I seem to really want to hammer home certain points, but my repetition also comes from not planning much of the book ahead of time. Not planning is great when interesting ideas come to you while writing (or in the shower after an unproductive writing session). When the flashes of inspiration aren’t coming, though, I can end up waffling while I find my way forward. That means instead of one chapter in the ship traveling from one place to the next, there are two (or three).

04hemingway-mediumsquareat3xSometimes there is good stuff in those superfluous chapters, even if the bulk of them has to go. It’s kind of freeing to delete a whole chapter (especially when you have to bring the word count down) but it’s tough to get rid of something you think is good. It can be something as simple as a turn of phrase, or a good description. I try to keep the best stuff when I merge chapters like that, but ultimately, some good writing has to go (with the bad). Elly Blake, one of the Writing Wrecking Crew, is fond of quoting Hemingway. “Kill your darlings.” It’s true, but that doesn’t always make it easy.

While I’ve been moving steadily forward on this second draft, I feel like I’m dragging my feet. I should be doing more chapters in a day, but I find that I’m going over chapters multiple times some days, trying to get things just right. Sadly, so far I haven’t managed to get things where I’d like them to be. I’ve fixed some obvious errors and cut out some of the worst examples or repetition (and waffling) but It’s not going fast enough (and it’s not always turning out right). But it’s still just the second draft. I keep having to remind myself that I don’t have to fix everything and make it perfect on this pass. That’s what the third draft is for (or the twelfth or the twentieth).

giphy-4I haven’t started writing in the evenings either (like I mentioned two weeks ago). But baby steps, I guess. Some progress is better than none. Two months is not a lot of time, though. Hopefully the pressure will help me pick up the pace. If not, I’m going to have to roll up my sleeves on my own (or maybe ask the Writing Crew to help keep me accountable). It’s been tough being stuck at home for so long. I know I’m not alone in that, but I’ve been feeling it lately. I’m going to have to experiment with working on the back patio or forcing myself to go for late night walks to clear my head. Like with everything for me, the hardest part is starting. At least for the second draft of the invasion novel, I’m already doing it. I just have to keep going.

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