Successful Editing Tonight
I’m editing as quickly and as thoroughly as I can. It’s painful, exhilarating, exhausting, and reinvigorating, all at different times. Tonight, I’ve felt all of those things and more.
While editing, I find myself wondering how I could have ever shown this story to anyone. The story itself is okay, but the writing? Why did I use the passive voice so much? Was I in love with the word “was”?
As hard as I’m working on this, progress is slow. If I didn’t have a full time job, maybe I could get this finished in a few weeks. At my current pace, I don’t know when I’ll finish. This is the greatest source of frustration for me, and I have to work really hard to avoid getting discouraged.
I knew the chapter I was going to work on tonight would be trouble when I got to it, and it has been. The prose needed a lot of work. The action needed better pacing. The whole thing needed tweaking. The whole chapter was a fetid swamp, and I needed it to be a fresh smelling meadow.
I put my head down and pushed through. Parts were replaced. Details were enhanced. Some sentences became shorter. I crafted better metaphors, and found stronger verbs. I banished every “was” that I found.
And now I have a much cleaner chapter that actually fits into story and progresses it the way I intended.
I’ve talked before about the difference between talent and skill. Talent is like raw strength, while skill is the product of work and practice. When it comes to playing sax, I have a little bit of talent, and enough skill to make my talent seem like more than it is. I’ve met and played with people that had more talent, but were less skilled. And I’ve played with a few people were both more talented AND more skilled. Stefan, the musician that subs in for us in RC Swing, fits that category.
When it comes to writing, I feel like I have more talent than I have skill. I have a strong vocabulary, and I can get my ideas across. But as I’ve discovered while editing this book, I’m clumsy and bullish. There are moments I can be proud of, but those places are surrounded by amateur efforts that detract from the work as a whole.
Looking back at what I’ve said so far in this post, I can’t tell if I’m bragging or putting myself down. Maybe a little of both. What I want to say is that tonight, I’ve seen myself grow as a writer. I feel like I’m starting to really hone my skills.
I still have a long ways to go, but I’m going to get there. I’m still moving along, one word at a time.