August 11, 2012

Editing is hard

A few things:

Editing is hard.  (In this case, I mean editing/cutting/rewriting one's own work in response to notes, both specific and general, from an editor.)  Not because editing is inherently difficult or because I dislike doing it or because don't think my work requires it.  No.  Actually, I think the challenges I am facing right now with Bone and Bread are trifoliate*:
  • Once your words have taken a particular form that has been stable for, I don't know, years and years, and you've read them a hundred times, they just start to sound right that way...and it certainly doesn't mean that they're better that way or that they shouldn't be only makes it hard to imagine how. 
  • Editing tends to involve moving around from problem to problem, which is a different kind of process from writing, where you are generally moving forward or through or at least thinking about a whole scene a little more slowly or singularly....and slow thinking tends to produce answers to problems.  It is harder to solve something immediately when you've only just arrived on the page ready to tackle it.
  • Maybe it's due to this jumping from note to note and getting stumped on a problem and not knowing whether to linger until it's fixed or press forward unto the end, but this kind of editing makes it much harder for me to achieve momentum and focus.  

So that's why it's hard.  But it does feel better to complain!

As penance for whining, here is a picture of a dog dressed up as two dogs carrying a present:

So clever and cute!

The unpacking continues, even though it both should (it would be great to get everything in order!) and shouldn't (I should really be spending every minute editing).  Most of the boxes are gone, although disorder persists in  the closets.  I also found time the other night to paint my nails with a colour that is still one of my go-to shades after picking it up last year:  Chinchilly by Essie.  Essie describes it as a "sleek granite gray" (yes, they spell it that way), but I find it has some warm, light mauvey-brown tones in it, too. 

Chinchilly nails on one of our new cushions.
ALSO...and forgive the non sequitur...children really do give one hope for the world.  It turns out that this is one of those clichés that also happens to be profoundly true.  People in general give me hope, but I'm always caught off guard by courage and openness and grace when they are displayed by someone very young. 

*because it is my blog and because it is midnight and because most of my time is spent making judicious word choices, I am letting this word stand, since it has charmed me by appearing out of nowhere.  Trifoliate will have have its day in the sun!  Trust me, though, that my novel is not full of this kind of word, nor, I hope, many similar discursions...then my editing would be difficult indeed


Rebecca Rosenblum said...

Hi Saleema,

I've received an editing tip a couple times and am only starting to try it out, so I can't vouch for it but seems sound so far: retype. Don't just rename your document with a new draft number and move/fix the text as it already exists. Print out a hard copy of the story/chapter, open a *blank* document, and start as if from scratch. I'm told--and I'm finding--it's really easier to see your words as less set-in-stone if they aren't yet on the (new) page--you're much more likely to see improvements as the words are flowing out of you all over again!


saleema said...

Rebecca, thanks for this! It is a great tip! I've done it with paragraphs here and there that weren't working, and with essays and freelancing articles, though the novel is such a monster I didn't feel like I had time to try it on this round.