Editing: my mortal enemy.

Maybe it is just me. But I always felt like editing is the hardest part about writing a story. It is killing parts of your child you love. It is throwing away good things for better. It is forcing yourself to sit down and be honest about yourself. It is extremely hard for me.

I have attempted many things to make editing easier. I’ve asked for help, I have let it sit for weeks hoping to come back with a new viewpoint. I have forced myself to hate my story just so I can be harsh. None of these things really helped me. In the end the truth is, you are your own worst judge.

Dana translation has this Infograph on both editing and proofreading. Here she suggests to create distance between writing and editing. It is true that waiting helps, a little. But for me it feels like wasting time. I have considered spending money on professional editors. But given the economic situation (both my own as the international one) this isn’t a time for such investments. So I have turned to the one solution left: my long-suffering girlfriend.

She took the chance with both hands and edited most of my short stories. I have never felt more thankful and yet, I know this is a temporary solution. I need to force myself to edit it myself. Whether I want to or not, you can only rely on yourself.

I think the reason I hate editing it is because it makes you self-conscious about your failures. I know you might ask me why that is a bad thing. In some ways it definitely isn’t. But when you look back at a story and realize the green grass is in fact a mouldy brown and that heroic warrior has a pot-belly and unkempt beard, it hurts your ego. Writing is after all the biggest ego-stroke a mind can do to himself. You live in the delusion that what you write is good enough for a story, a blog or even a published book.

I’ve been trying to look at editing with a different mindset. Editing isn’t killing the thing you love so you can rebuild it better. It is painting the house after putting up the structure. It is removing that which harms the story and adding the things you didn’t know the story needed. In my case I’ve gone back and rewrote entire chapters while I was editing. I have removed characters, added characters, changed names or even entire plot-lines. But still every change is a loss and every loss is a pain. I wish I could share everything my mind creates,everything my imagination throws at me. But the cold harsh truth is that most of what I make isn’t good enough to share.

I am currently editing “Why Wolves Fear Humans” and it makes it really hard on myself. “It is a short story” races through my mind all the time yet I can’t seem to really go as quickly as I want to. I get stuck staring at every word looking for different ways to say it or alternate ways to go about it. I don’t like editing. I never will. If it means I can write more, however. I’ll gladly edit.

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~ by Sander on August 26, 2012.

5 Responses to “Editing: my mortal enemy.”

  1. Editing is terrible but it’s like looking for the perfect girl. You might find some good ones along the way but the perfect one is out there if you just keep looking. Don’t be afraid to throw out the stuff that you know is bad; don’t be afraid to throw out stuff that you love, if you keep it only because you love it and not because it really works. I like your house analogy. After a while, I think it’s as fun to edit as to write.

    • I doubt I’ll ever truely like editing. But I do love what I end up with. Editing is always improving. It is harsh and ruthless. But still, improving.

  2. I find getting utterly stoked before editing helps a bundle. My fragile ego burns with rum, thereby growing in strength and allowing me to leave alone those poor sentences which are crying out to remain, as opposed to just hacking and whacking at the whole lot.
    I’m trying very hard to go by your last statement. It’s repainting the house, not tearing it down.

  3. Thanks for linking to my blog. I’m looking forward to reading yours.

  4. My girlfriend has suffered a lot editing my work. She showed me.this post as a taunt 🙂
    Loved the post.

    Fishinabathtub.WordPress.com

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