This is probably a strange topic to write about considering I haven’t been published yet, other than online. However, I am fortunate to have access to a fantastic editor who has taken time out of her busy day to read my material and offer her viewpoint on revisions (most of which I agree need to be made). My Mother has been an integral part of my writing journey and has been the editor of a magazine for many, many years. She’s got a keen eye, and has the technical qualities that are absolutely necessary to create a polished product. Faithfully, she continues to read my work, and offer her knowledge free of charge, and I take advantage of her expertise whenever possible.
After I finished my novel, I had no idea that I would become so obsessive about editing. I can find something to change every time I read it; to the point where it is annoying. Everything I’ve researched tells me to make sure that my final submission is the best exposition I can put together, which is of course true. The problem, is that if you are a perfectionist, like me, then you’ll read your work over, and over, and over…tweaking and tuning it to death. It never ends.
I now have first hand experience at how writers can become so easily, and overbearingly attached to their work. You simply become unable to see it clearly. The best advice I found to begin the editing process, was to treat my book like a steak – and let it rest. You have poured your heart and soul into a story and written it under various emotional circumstances, so trust me, you will notice some digression when you start to use the red pen. I still digress… I’m human. Writer’s block during the editing phase is a lot easier to deal with than the first time you struggled to describe a complicated scene, because all you need to do is start reading. Go back to the very beginning (for me, I’ll have to have written about 50 pages of drivel in a journal first) and just start over. While reading you can see the plot unfolding in your head, and in the beginning, you couldn’t quite articulate it for any number of reasons. Accept the fact that you will inevitably end up with more than one tortured syntax. Letting the book rest is the best way to gain clarity, and if you’ve got a house like mine where there is always something to do, it’s easy to follow this advice as long as you have the willpower to stay away from the computer. When you’re ready to start, adding another trained set of eyes to this process will only make your finished product that much better.
During my last edit session, I brushed up on my transitional skills and I was still able to spot some plot holes. Having a another person contribute and help you spot the holes and develop your plot is priceless, and for me, completely necessary. Having this relationship with my Mom has shown me that I am a lot more agreeable than I once thought I was, and that I was just writing in the wrong venue (it’s surprising how much you can accomplish when you actually do something you like). There are undeniably places that an agent or publisher will probably want to see expounded upon, and others they may want to see me scrap – just like she did. At that point, I’ll be happy to have their attention long enough thinking the novel is good enough for print, and will realize that the goal is to make the book the very best it can be. If you’re truly committed to making your book the best it can be, you’ll see that revisions are just part of the process – and almost always necessary.