Monday, January 25, 2010

Editing is Creative Writing Too

Dear Sarah,

Please don't forget that editing (at this level) is as much a creative process as is the initial creation of the novel.

Lots of love, 


I don't often email myself, or every one else by accident, but I did the other day. I have a lot of confidence issues about my work. I have a lot of angsting and whining as go through each stage of writing. Sometimes it's fun. Sometimes it's less so.

This email to myself was an epiphany. I had spent four working days (child free days) and a number of non-child free days wrestling constantly with the fact I need to drag my novel into the next draft. The Egoboo group have been wonderfully supportive and inspiring, but let's be honest here. I read one of the crits and it was so happy and positive and warm and generous I cried. That's right. I cried because I got warm, positive, happy feedback.

And it took me about 2 months to even consider reading it. Even after I listened to all the warm, generous, positive things people had to say, I still had some mental block that meant I couldn't start to learn and do until I'd scaled it.

So have I scaled it?

I think that moment when I realised the editing process can be as creative as the writing process was the first chink in the wall. I have a toehold. I can get my fingers in the cracks. The part where I put my weight onto my fingers and toes is coming, but now I feel like it's possible.

Part of this is undoing my own indoctrination on how I think the writing process works. Some subconscious part of me thinks that you write a story, cut it into shape, and play with the words, and that the writing part is 'fun' and the editing part is 'work'. Reaising that the next draft of this book is going to be equally creative is a breakthrough for me. I need to tie off threads, add threads in, rewrite scenes... all of this needs me to be alert creatively, on the ball linguistically, and thoughtful plot-wise.

This is a chance to make the ideas and the storyline awesome. And that's why it's worth all the self-learning and revelations and ephiphanies. They're hard won, and they're going to be reflected in this book which will be the best I can make it.

Maybe next time the letter will read:

Dear Sarah,

You're working hard on making this the best book it vcan be. Well done, it's going brilliantly.  Keep up the hard work.

Lots of Love, 


1 comment:

  1. Yes, Sarah, I totally agree!
    This time around, I wanted to get into a more positive headspace about editing, too. It probably helps that I'm appreciating the value of editing in a whole different way now too - or is it that my 'definition' of it has expanded? :-)