The editing process
What is editing?
As I slowly approached the end of my book, I faced the editing dilemma. What is it? Is working on a draft considered editing? Or is it editing only when you sit at the desk with a surly face, red pencil in your hand, with the firm intention of taking out all adverbs and revise the manuscript for any common place?
I found countless checklists, step-by-step guides, and ultimate editing advice. Ferocious and cutting are the two key messages I got from all the different sources.
I get the cutting part, I agree less on the ferocious. This word triggers negative thoughts and I believe it might be counterproductive. Yes, nothing is sacred and everything in the story can be changed, tossed away or turned upside down. But I see this not as a ferocious action but rather as the natural flow of a book. Just be ready to change your mind, if you find something boring.
I wonder why there are so many images connecting the art of writing with a painful and lonely experience.
Self-revision or paid editing?
There is a certain proud in saying that you edited a book yourself, and I wonder how many choose this option because of the stereotyped ideas of writing: a writer in pain over his/her work, sweating over each scene, losing sleep at each weak dialogue.
I don’t want to be that kind of writer. I want the writing to be a pleasant activity, even if it does require time and work. Perfection is not my goal, because I do not believe it exists. What I do want is to tell stories I like, following my inspiration, my voice, my language. Writing (and editing) is an art which requires some tools, and I am more than willing to learn them. But my own way.
Editing as a learning tool
Thus, the moment I decided to work on the book and publish it, it was clear that I was going to hire an editor. Pay someone to edit my book. Horror! If I need someone to tell me what is wrong in the book, why do I want to publish it at all, was a comment I received.
My reply is, how do I really know what is wrong if I never wrote a book? Despite having put it aside for several months, as many sources suggested, there might still be many “mistakes” as there is a certain blind spot which, I believe, it cannot completely be eliminated. Writing in a language which is not mine, is an additional reason to have external eyes looking at my work.
I wrote three drafts, I cut and added scenes at each stage but I still wanted to have a feedback on the work. And this is what an editor is there for. Examine your book with different eyes, and better assess how far you might be to make your book a good one.
I am 100% sure that I will have to do a fourth version, and this is completely ok. But the feedback I will get is not only about the book, but also about my ability to feel what works and what not. The process helps me increase my sensibility, besides developing my writing tools. This is for me a committed writer.
I am eager to have my creativity stimulated by simple questions and looking forward to editing the manuscript again.