Friday, July 9, 2010

Am Editing

My three favorite Twitter hashtags are:  #amreading, #amwriting, and #amediting.  Whenever I see one of those I always stop to read the tweet.  #Amreading alerts me to great new titles; #amwriting inspires me to write those extra pages, and #amediting reminds me to take the work seriously.

For the past few weeks I've been doing my best to stay in #amediting mode.  It hasn't been easy.  I readily confess to loving first drafts:  the thrill of new characters; speed writing; first thoughts/"best" thoughts (or so they seem!).  Sometimes editing feels too much like doing my homework when I'd rather be eating dessert.

But this week there's been a shift; around Tuesday I found myself starting to enjoy the process of preparing a manuscript for print.  It may have had something to do with passing the "100 page" mark at last.  As it stands now, my manuscript is 429 double-spaced pages, printed in New Courier 12 font (easiest to read, I think).  I figure that if I stay on track editing a minimum of 14 pages a day I'll be finished by August 1.

I waited a year to start this final edit and I'm glad I did.  Enough time has passed to almost convince me someone else wrote the book--a wonderful advantage when it comes to slashing sentences, cutting excess description, and doing my best to wordsmith my way to a clearly-told story.  Often I'll come to a passage and I won't even remember writing it, allowing me to be utterly ruthless.

One of the reasons for my reluctance to start this particular edit was my fear that concentrating on editing would somehow lead to me forgetting how to write.  Absurd, I know!  But I was worried that skimping on my daily freewriting would be like an athlete not staying in shape, or a dancer lounging in front of the television instead of showing up in the rehearsal room.  How wrong I was.  Writing IS rewriting.  Sticking to an editing plan and schedule is where the real magic happens.

Now instead of groaning at the thought of my daily editing quota, I look forward to each 30-minute session (after 30 minutes I begin to read, not critique).  I have my manuscript neatly tucked into a new, large binder that accompanies me most of the day and night.  I don't like to let it out of my sight and it's always ready to work on whenever I have a free moment.  Believe it or not, it's a great way to spend the summer!

Tip(s) of the Day:  I have two:  1) The longer you leave a manuscript between edits the better your editorial eye will be.  Don't rush to edit.  And 2) If you write every day--even just a few minutes between editing sessions--you will build a body of work, which means that you will be able to leave off editing your manuscripts for a year or longer.  That way you will never run out of manuscripts to polish, submit, and, sell.

1 comment:

Julie said...

I appreciate learning more about this #amediting process. I still feel like a long way off from this but I'm hopeful.