In an effort to motivate myself and avoid the self-imposed humiliation of failing publicly, I have decided to update every two weeks on my editing. This is my first time editing a novel. I’ve edited short stories aplenty, but I don’t feel prepared in the slightest.
For those wondering, I wrote a horror fiction piece during 2012’s National Novel Writing Month and am finally, seriously, editing it. The story itself is loosely based on my first three years of primary school, which would be horror in itself without the supernatural elements I’ve added to the story.
The Fourth Week
Well… Editing… Yeah… It’s not going so well. I’m stuck. I’ve tried reading the second chapter and making notes, then reading the chapter without making notes, working on research, re-writing the first paragraph, introducing the characters in different ways, creating alternatives for the beginning, creating alternatives for each scene, and still there’s lack of forward motion.
Of course this is after my usual sit-down editing routine, which I’d attempt every day, but I ended up doing all the above in order to facilitate progress. I can’t figure out what’s going on! So I gave myself breaks when I became too frustrated and developed tension headaches. I’d read, I’d spend time with the rabbit, I’d do housework, I’d outline other projects, I painted wood, I’d do all sorts of things that had nothing to do with my story. Then I came back to it, and what would happen? Nothing!
The important thing, I think, is I attempted to edit each day. I tried to be positive when I’d begin my work day, but those feelings of doubt and insecurity would be lurking. I’d question whether I can actually edit and if I’m doing the right thing, you know, just questioning. When I felt my confidence getting too low I would do something I felt I had skill in. Like organising and cleaning. I am the shit at organising, not necessarily myself, but certain things. Writing schedules, housework schedules, meal plans, reading schedules, cupboards… If you let me loose in your home, especially when I’m highly stressed, oh your cupboards better watch out! I’d organise the shit out of them so well you wouldn’t even recognise your kitchen!
Someone should pay me for my organisation skills. The thing is though, I only want to do it when I feel overwhelmed and need to find some control, like when I’m editing. Organisation probably wouldn’t be good in a job description, but hey, it makes me feel good.
Not like stupid editing. Stupid… hate you… editing… jerk…
The Fifth Week
I’m so happy for myself I want to say yeah bitches, now dance for me, but I think that makes me sound like an arsehole. I also have no idea who would be dancing for me. My characters? Makes sense. I master those bastards! Dance bitches, dance. If you think I sound delirious at this point, you might be on to something.
I try to tie writing into my daily life and away from the keyboard. The actual act is reserved for my keyboard only, but there are other areas you need to consider and be active in when you are a writer. Learning about the craft itself isn’t just about the act, although it is a large part of it. I find myself always aware. My story-teller mind is always on. It doesn’t have to be at the forefront, it can be hiding way back behind the curtains, but the point is it’s always making notes. Always.
When I joined the gym I tried to figure out how I could make the time work for my writing. The main reason for being there is obvious and I wondered what on Earth I could possibly do where I could work out and concentrate. I began listening to podcasts and one of my favourite blog’s to follow, K.M. Weiland’s Helping Writers Become Authors, just happens to have a podcast channel. Score!
So here I was, listening to a few of her podcasts one day and I came across Are You Over-Thinking Your First Draft? I know it was focused on actually writing, but it made me wonder. I remembered my first update when I questioned if I was being overly-meticulous. Then it occurred to me, I’m probably asking this of myself because I can be pedantic.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think you should be lazy and half-arsed when it comes to editing, but the average amounts of editing for a novel are four. I think I’ve been trying to edit as though I’m squishing four quality edits into two, or even one.
Not only is that exhausting, but it means looking for far more faults in one go then you need to. I’m aware I’m a novice at novel editing, but doesn’t trying to fit everything in seem foolhardy? Wouldn’t you miss more by trying to pick out as much as possible? I don’t want to miss anything. I don’t care if I have to edit this novel eight times, I am not going to drive myself nuts with it. A little nuts maybe, but not overzealous nuts.
So I gave myself a break, had a day off, and then converted the whole thing to mobi, and sent it to my Kindle. I began by telling myself what, out of my list, I would focus on. Then I lay down on the floor next to my bunny, Winston, and we chilled together while I read it through and stopped to make notes on my Mac.
I think the change of scenery from my desk made a difference, the lighting in my place isn’t exactly ideal, and lying down near the windows makes a huge difference for my head. Plus I decided not to take myself so seriously with this read through and to look for certain things, rather than the whole list.
The lighting in my place isn’t exactly ideal, for a word it is shitty, and I’m aware this does not help my writing. I think changing location where I could lie, or sit, near a window helped me focus better and staved off dreaded headaches.
Unfortunately it hasn’t gone as smoothly as I would’ve hoped. My partner’s iPhone cracked up mid-week. She tried backing it up to my Mac before visiting the Apple store, but guess what? There wasn’t enough room on my Mac! Luckily I have an external hard drive so backed everything up to it and deleted as much as I could from my Mac, but this resulted in time and pointed out a problem; my files weren’t organised well enough. Of course I had to organise them, because I’m the shit at organising apparently…
I will focus on being positive though. It may not be the progress I have wanted so far, but at least I have made some. I’m learning more and more as I go, and I’m not going to give-in. I will make editing my bitch. I will be the shit at it like I am with organising cupboards.