Sunday, 28 November 2010

Editing Struggle

Last weekend, and the majority of today, has mostly been spent editing my first novel. It’s beginning to become an uphill struggle.

Due to it being my first complete novel, there are a lot of plot inconsistencies and issues I’ve had to face as I have made my way through the beginning and near middle of the novel. To give you an idea of how much I’ve had to change and cut – the novel sat at a massive 140,000 words before editing. I’ve been through roughly fourteen chapters and have cut nearly 40,000 words. Surprisingly, I’ve enjoyed cutting. Everything I cut has been completely necessary to the furthering the plot and making the novel work as a whole. I created enough distance for myself in the gap between writing and editing that chipping away at all those words I laboured over isn’t a problem for me. They had to go, and it wouldn’t have been rational to try and keep them.

This weekend, I reached my first real editing block. After going through so many chapters that desperately needed cuts, I’m beginning to reach the chapters where only minor changes and cuts need to be made. But I find myself questioning everything; wanting to cut; doubting whether the scene makes logical sense in the novel anymore. Begrudgingly, I have kept some scenes. But it’s meant a lot of reworking on my part. This part is much harder than the overall cutting. It’s harder because while the material is good; it’s not good enough. During editing, it is my job to bring it up to the standard. This often means having to rewrite or add in scenes and pages of text. I’ve done so much work on it already, editing has simply become an arduous struggle.

I imagine this will become part of my editing process. My next novel in the series has substantially better material. Which means I’ll have mostly rewrites rather than cuts to deal with. I can only describe it as a double edged sword. While I love going back over my favourite scenes and polishing them, editing can become very draining. It leaves me with little energy to do other tasks and work I need to get done, simply because I’ve spent all day staring at a computer screen and cannot bear to sit there anymore. It’s exhausting. I love my novel to bits, but sometimes, I wish it didn’t need quite so much work.

The only thing I can do is continue working and try and get my second draft out of the way. Once I’ve made the major structural changes, I cannot begin to describe how much easier editing will be, especially after receiving the comments from my test readers. My main fight now is getting to that place. So while editing has been entertaining and rewarding, it has also been a challenge on my part. There are around two thirds of my novel left to edit and my self-imposed deadline is near the end of December. At the moment, I’m confident I’ll get there, especially with the free time Christmas will bring.

Wish me luck. I’m going back to fight through the muddy and murky waters of editing.

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