Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My Love-Hate Relationship with Editing (Part I)

So. Editing. Edit edit edit editeditedit! That strange four-letter word that occasionally is thought of as an epithet - at least in my mind.
Editing is one of those vital aspects to writing that is often even more exhausting than writing itself. I find myself avoiding the editing process after I finish a story. Inevitably, I start and find myself completely absorbed in it. Hours pass, my back cramps, and I realize how exhilarated I feel. Editing is wonderful! Then I have to stop to do something else, leaving the euphoria of editing behind me. The next time I have to edit, I find myself yet again avoiding the work. Even though I know I need to edit and I enjoy the work, still I have this irrational dislike that springs up every time I have to start the process.
Editing is truly exciting for me - fighting the words, finding synonyms, dissecting the grammar, spacing and deleting and adding...
If I'm honest enough, I think I get this way in regards to editing other people's work, not my own. Instead, I find that when I edit my own work, I want to change everything. I question every little nuance of a word, rewrite a sentence four different ways and end up with the original version, get up and walk around my apartment every few minutes - in short, the editing never stops with my own work.
Better, I think to myself, to submerge myself in the creative process, and not bother with editing until the very last minute.
But the truth is, editing IS part of the creative process. And much like the rest of it, editing can be frustrating and rewarding in turn, lead to self-recrimination or new discoveries. And more than anything, editing can make you a better writer, one who is self-aware and conscious of the responsibility inherent in manipulating letters into a series of words that tell a story, or a memory, a belief, or a moment. Writing is Re-writing, and a good author should never settle for the first draft. Challenge yourself to do better, because you know what?
You will.

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