Lyla Campbell

Upon wading into the editing pool this past Friday night I went through a wide range of emotion. The deeper I dove into my story, the more intense it got. It suddenly dawned on me that the similarities to another emotional process were quite striking. So far, editing this particular WIP is like going through the five stages of grief. I have spent an inordinate amount of time assembling this rough draft. The setting and plot that was once just a glimmer in my eye is now an alternate universe that I know like the back of my hand and the characters become a second family to me.

When it came time to edit I tear it down and build it back up again. A process that will be repeated ad nauseum. This is the painful, yet unavoidable part. Unfortunately, It's a necessary evil if you want to take your manuscript from (very) rough draft to polished piece.

Stage 1: Shock and Denial. I noticed this first parallel just a few days ago when I got up the guts to finally start the editing process on my NaNoWriMo novel. I couldn't believe that I had written some of the junk that was in this word file. A lot of it made me cringe, and every so often I came across something that made me throw up in my mouth a little. I found it very hard to come to terms with the fact that I had written this.

Stage 2: Anger: I was angry that I had spent so much time and energy on something so craptastic. After (barely) making it all the way through the document, I felt a little embarrassed that the manuscript was my work. My cheeks were warm and had more color than they normally did and I really had to fight the urge to bury all evidence of this endeavor in the back and all.

Stage 3: Bargaining. Here you start making deals with a higher power. I promise I will give up chocolate for a whole month if you'll just impart to me a less craptastic and more original plot device than the one I used in this scene. This never works...but I still try all the same.

Stage 4: Depression. At this point, I've been editing my WIP for who knows how long now. I keep chipping away at it here, filling in plot holes there, but it feels like a futile fight. Weeping and gnashing of teeth ensues because no matter how much time and effort I've already put it, there still seems to be an equal or greater amount left to go. (Side note: This makes me wonder how long it took to edit "The Never Ending Story"?)

Stage 5: Hope and Acceptance. Here, my eyes have adjusted to the darkness and I can finally see the little speck of light at the end of the tunnel. It's taken a long, long, long time to get here, but I can breath again. Unfortunately...
...Once I'm done with that scene, it's time to start on the next, and it's back to stage one. *Sigh* Such is life on the editing roller coaster.

Maybe my view of editing is a little melodramatic and melancholy. However, I did just start the editing process and the tunnel is so long, I can't see the light at the end from where I stand. Nevertheless, I'll keep going till it's done because I want it badly enough.

Does editing do similar things to your soul?
5 Responses
  1. This is one of the most brilliant pieces I have read while blogging, I have to say. I've heard editing being compared to almost everything but not this. I'm gonna tweet this.


  2. What Ann said! LOL! :-)

    (except for the tweet part because I don't tweet)

  3. Thank you Ann and Shannon! I'm so glad you liked this post. I felt like I was taking a bit of a risk with this post but I blushed a little when I saw how well it was received.

    And thanks for the tweet too! Word of mouth is the best advertisement. :)

  4. Sebastian Says:

    Wow, it is startlingly similar to grief, you're right :P

    (I don't think I've ever done grief, but it matches what I've heard about it...)

    I'd hesitate to add that as you become a better writer, the reaction might not be quite so grief-like!

    I've never edited my stuff (other than a brief experiment with a short story), but whenever I go back and look at the blog posts I made JUST A YEAR AGO, it's a little bit scary...

  5. If I try to edit too soon after writing something, I go through this. I'm better if I leave it a few months, then I have enough distance to look at it with moderately objective vision. (But nothing stops that horrible feeling when you read a really, really bad sentence and can't believe you wrote it!)

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