Happy Friday! Apologies for the missed post last Friday. I went to a massive convention as a volunteer and it was far more arduous than I thought it would be!
Our little bit of frivolity this week comes from an experience I had during my last round of editing on my novel. After a full day of rewriting several chapters, thinking I was polishing them to perfection, my editor came back with the first three pages layered in red ink (trying to soften the blow before sending the rest back to me).
Initially, I was not impressed and, though I'm loathed even now to admit it, he was absolutely right.
It's ironic, some would say, that an editor cannot edit their own work. In fact, I frequently find myself confronted by the very same issues I confront my authors about. You'd think I'd take my own advice, but it is incredibly difficult to see the forest for the trees when looking at your own work.
It's why I implore authors to find a good editor and I am no exception. Editing is, however, a steeper and more time consuming process than most new authors might consider (and published ones seem to occasionally forget).
It can be incredibly frustrating, thinking you've done all the work you need to on a chapter, only to have someone come back and say there's more work to be done. To calm my fury at yet more editing of the same chapter, my editor made a rather astute observation: He compared writing to sculpting.
"You've written this book, this story, however long or short, pouring your heart and soul into it, but it's a huge slab of marble. Now you have to refine it, chip away at that marble to find the masterpiece underneath. The masterpiece that people can see and enjoy."
My writing process is a stream of consciousness (and one that isn't chronologically stable at the best of times) so I know my "slab of marble" is rougher than most. Even after I edit on my own, I'm still staring at a huge block. The frustrating part is that I can see the sculpture in the stone but knowing exactly where to trim back eludes me...because I think it's all important (I made the slab of marble after all). That's why I need another set of eyes.
Just as sculpting marble is not a simple process of chisel in a few spots and the perfect sculpture will be revealed, it is never a simple process of write, edit, publish. It's more along the lines of write, edit, rewrite, edit, rewrite, someone else's edit, write, and rewrite again. You can imagine how the repetition might be frustrating...exhausting...and even depressing at times.
But does it ever sculpt a beautiful piece at the end of it.
I've only to read the first three chapters of my book (which are finally "completed," edits and all) and compare them to the original to see that transformation. It's amazing what a second pair of eyes can make you see...or rather what they can help you carve out and polish the masterpiece you've been staring at beyond the simple block of marble.
On that note, however, I had better get back to my novel. This marble won't sculpt itself!