Editing: The Writer’s Fanny Pack

A few days ago, I sat down to begin editing the first draft of the Young Adult novel I’ve just finished. I was optimistic, ready to dazzle even myself with my astounding wordplay.

Then I saw the problems, the pitfalls, and I was only on the first page! Editing is, by far, the hardest lap of the novel marathon. While you’re writing the book, you’re in the moment. You’re submerged in the plotline and tangled in the jungle gym of creating your characters. You’re on some kind of high where the world is rose-tinted and smells of fresh baked words. Editing is the hangover feeling you get after you crash from that high. The world is once again black and white, parchment and ink, and it smells of the carcasses of sentences and similes that you tossed out along the way. It’s embarrassing. You feel like the kid wearing the fanny pack on a school trip. The clumsy phrases and dangling prepositions wrap tight around you as you glance longingly at the Rowlings and Hemingways passing by, only wishing you wrote so well.

Editing is the questioning phase. Why did I use that description? What was I thinking naming her that? How can I kill this guy off and make my reader’s cry? But it’s not just questions about your book. The real world questions start creeping in. What the hell am I doing with my life? Did I honestly think I could write something good? Is it too late to change my career path?

I hate questions. They muck up the works, fog the brain. I sit down, stare at the words, and force myself to ask a few more. Do you enjoy writing? Obvious answer: yes. Do you think you’re any good? Hesitant answer: I’d like to believe so. Now, are you going to sit and complain about what you love, or are you going to build it into the best version your fingers can create? Mentally screamed answer: BEST VERSION!

Editing is time-consuming. It makes you want to tear your hair out. It makes you question everything about yourself and your life. But it also makes you stronger.

…And I should probably get back to it. Till next time!

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