No matter what type of writer you are; if you do it for hobby, for fun or with the Bailey’s prize in sight, editing is process and without it your work is a half formed thing (see what I did there?).
Editing for me is what writing really is, but something came to me yesterday and reshaped a part of the novel I’m working on and it quite literally gave it life, had me rambling on my Facebook page about fluttering butterflies and work that morphs in your hands. I know, a bit fancy for Facebook? The stuff about look at the cute dog is on there too and probably gets the most likes!
You see the thing is, while I LOVE the first draft stage when you create something from nothing and give characters a voice, a setting, a story, it’s the editing stages that turns something okay (dare I say: even something bad) into something wonderful — or at least that should always be the intention. And I find as I edit and new things come, these changes often make a huge difference, really — it’s often the smallest changes that make the biggest differences. Yeah that does deserve to be a bold statement I think. In this case something as simple as having a character hum a country tune made me realise something, a character who is dead at the start and therefore does not have a voice (although with my work anything is possible) her having been a country singer gives her eternal voice. Now without knowing anything about this story (only what I told you about it so far Isle of Pelicans that is) this will mean nothing to you (what am I rambling on about?) BUT it will make sense — trust me. Country music does create mood and it has soul. So it’s a way to make this character still be around and I knew as soon as I had this notion that I had found me a slice of magic that works for this story. Forget about whether it could be seen a cliché because as soon as you own something, take it in, hold it in and make it yours, you can make it quirky and different and interesting enough to lose the cliché. I see it as breathing life when it wasn’t there (in this case quite literally).
When writers moan about editing, they deny process. That should be bold too, right? Editing is process, it is what being a writer is all about. So embrace it. You might find magic in the creation of a first draft, but notice how, as you edit, pixie dust settles on the corners, seek it and you will find the true joy of the edit.
Happy Wednesday all!