Stop me before I edit again!

Right now, I’m up to my eyeballs in edits.

Why? Because I’m stupid.

Well, actually, because it’s bad timing. First, I got back some suggested edits on ♥My Book♥, and I’d like to get them done before I send ♥My Book♥ along to the next beta reader. Also, I need to talk to the editor of the first Seven Archangels novel about producing another one, and I want to have that book ready to go so that if he says “Send it” I can hit send while he’s on the phone with me. And thirdly, my Christmas novella The Boys Upstairs came back with some edits and rewrite suggestions from its publisher.

Meaning, I don’t think I could come up with a creative sentence right now even if you offered me a thousand dollars. But darn, I could correct one.

It’s funny because editing spills over into everything else I’m doing. I find that if I’m concentrating one something in my edits (removing useless words, for example) that I do it everywhere. I find myself mentally editing my junk mail or wanting to ask my kids to add more background or character to the anecdote they’re telling me from school.

Mentally I’m worn out. Correcting uses different parts of the brain than creating. I think I’ve said that before on the weblog: when you create, you need to be uninhibited and when you edit, you need to be completely inhibited.

Or to be quasi-spiritual, writing is mercy and editing is justice. Both have their place in order to create a decent manuscript.

But justice is hard, and it’s a matter of constantly looking for problems, assessing them, coming up with the best solution, and implementing them. In order to find the problems, you need to hold the whole book in your head and be able to see five or six different quantum states of the book at the same time to weigh which is the best iteration of whatever problem you need to fix.

In my case, times three.

I need more caffeine. Or better timing. Or a spucket.

Or, just to make it more fun, a short story to get accepted with edits due by Saturday. Now that problem I would take in a heartbeat! Bring it on!

In the meantime, I’ll be wielding the mighty red pen of justice. Hide your children’s eyes. This won’t be pretty.

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About philangelus

Mom, freelance writer, novelist, angelphile, Catholic, know-it-all.
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8 Responses to Stop me before I edit again!

  1. knit_tgz says:

    Thanks! Just thanks for what you wrote! You have no idea how important it was for me to understand the different “selves” that have been fighting inside me, and why I cannot get unstuck in certain areas, that need creativity to get moving.

    Correcting uses different parts of the brain than creating. I think I’ve said that before on the weblog: when you create, you need to be uninhibited and when you edit, you need to be completely inhibited.

    Thanks, because now I have a simile that helps me understand some things about my different parts/selves.

    The part of me I call the “intuitive TGZ” seems to be that creative part you mentioned, the “mercy” part. To get to talk with her, I need to undress myself of many protective layers, and allow myself to express in different ways than usual. The “discursive logic TGZ” seems to be the editing part, the “justice” one. And she is the one I usually allow to command all my other selves. (Despite all this, I am not as crazy as I sound, believe me 😉 )

    Funnily enough, my intuitive part comes out easier if I am writing by hand, especially at night. In the computer, it’s almost impossible…

    • philangelus says:

      I prefer to write novel-length manuscripts longhand too. I haven’t lately, but Seven Archangels: Annihilation was a longhand novel.

      It’s why I used to tell my students that the only purpose of a first draft was to have a second draft, not to struggle to get it perfect the first time around. Writing and editing are different functions.

  2. cricketB says:

    Your brain only has two parts? Lucky! I have more. Editors and planners and continuity checkers for pacing, overall plot, characterization, and action within a scene. Each one needs a turn in the limelight. They usually squabble over whose turn it is, and leave a mess for the others to clean up.

  3. Ken Rolph says:

    We didn’t know where you were up to with you editing, because your novelometer still says 100%. I am watching, you know.

    When I was making money from publishing I got quite used to reading in to different modes. If someone gave me a manuscript I could read it without noticing any typos, etc and give a good summary of what it was about. If I edited it I could give a good summary of the common errors, even down to particular pages, but could not tell you what it was about.

    After computers came in I learnt to edit in two different modes. One was on screen, aided by the red and green squiggles. The other was to print it out and edit with a red pen. I used to be part of an arts group that had exhibitions. They used strawboard panels on stands to pin up visual artworks. These were stored at my place. I would set on up in a spare room, print out the work under edit and pin it up in series on the board. This gave a good overview of the whole. It was always particularly revealing if you stood back and saw that one section had more red marks than others. It gave you a good vision of where in the work things were going wrong.

    I think most people read in a muddle of modes. They are trying to understand the content but get discombobulated by errors. Many people think I should suffer most from this because I worked in publishing. I find it hard to explain to them that I just switch off the editing mode and enjoy reading without noticing any problems.

    Two brains are very handy if you have them well trained.

  4. cricketB says:

    I remember reading novels for fun after starting to proof-read for my mother. Some published books had more typos than she’d ever allow!

    I can’t ever turn off the GPS part of my brain, and the logical plot is usually on. I need to satisfy both of them before the others (pacing, description, characterization and change) have a chance — then find a real problem, and we all start over.

  5. Pingback: Edit heaven « Seven angels, four kids, one family

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