Friday, August 2, 2013

Torture Versus a Slog Through Hip Deep Mud - Editing/Revising

Editing versus revising versus rewriting is a matter of sharpening focus. To my mind, editing is a close up examining surface blemishes - grammar, punctuation, fat finger mistakes and tweak-y word choices. (It isn't your imagination. I've used this photo before. ) While in editing mode, I'm no longer inside a story. The plot and characters stand on their own. Editing makes the OCD part of my heart oh-so-happy. I get to rest story brain and fuss with niggley detail that requires a more rules and detail-oriented slice of gray matter.
Don't laugh. When I've been thousands of feet deep inside the belly of my own personal whale of a novel, switching to smoothing the surface of the ocean is a relief. (Like how I did this photo - looks like I'm deep but you can see the whole of the cat who's eye is above? Work with me. Cat and boat photos are about all I have.)
Revising requires something totally different: staying a thousand feet deep within the story, while simultaneously pulling the viewfinder out far enough to be able to see the whole of the novel.
Never let someone tell you it's easy. There are people for whom drafting is a swift, joyful journey into the unknown and revision is a slog through hip-deep mud. Infested with leeches. Then there are people for whom drafting is torture and revision is a giddy, slippery-slide to THE END (me). But few normal people will shrug off the mental gymnastics required of revision. This is the spot in the writing process where it
feels like you have to see the forest AND the trees. All at once. It's a special mind space, I think, but one that's hard to articulate. I can only say it's far easier for me to know what to say to make something right after I've written it wrong. And I do mean wrong rather than incorrectly. Incorrect is what editing fixes. Written wrong is what revising is all about. Remember in junior high when other kids were making fun of you for something? You didn't know what to say or what to do until at 2 in the morning, the perfect response occurred to you? This is my life. No, no. Not the being made fun of part. Usually. I mean that my brain rarely comes up with the perfect thing to say until long past the point that I needed to say it. This is why drafting a novel is a one way ticket to the pit of hell for me. I drag my typing fingers, hoping the perfect words will deign to emerge. All I ever get is flipped off and an easier revision because THEN things start coming to me. This lack of mental nimbleness makes me a less than stellar Tweeter, speaking of deserving to be made fun of.

Rewrites are a different critter altogether and I won't be providing more than a mental image for your blog reading pleasure. Rewrites require you to stand in the bleeding, steaming guts of your story, pulling out bits of bone and vital organs in order to figure out why this creation you want to see living and breathing on its own refuses to do so. Then you have to stuff everything back inside, sew it all up, and hope the lightning strikes soon. Dr. Frankenstein. Painful? Yep. Gory? All too often. Full on emotional meltdown is reasonably common, too. But once the anatomy is rearranged, there's some fun in finding out whether your monster will rise to then be polished up before being loosed upon the world.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the suggestions. I am always looking for something new to read and always looking for new authors. Good luck with the revise, reword and overall editing you have to do.