Novel Anarchy Part 2 – Editing

I know. I know.  I’m not holding up  my end of the blogging bargain, and I will spare you all the lame justifications I came up with while polishing my toe nails.  I do vow, (lol) however,  to  give it another go and say something…anything, at least,  once a week.

To cut to the chase, I have seven manuscripts in various stages of development.  They are  finished as far as the storylines are concerned. However, some need reconstruction of scenes, adjustment of some horrendous twist, which lead the characters off-track, or a total rewrite, to bring it to the place I envisioned when the journey began.

I started writing novels three years ago,  after an extended  writing hiatus, nine years to be exact.  When my mother passed away in 1998, I was rendered unable to string thoughts together, let alone, complete a clever paragraph.

Upon buying my first laptop ten years ago, I made a promise to my husband, that I would use it write a novel.  The laptop held pictures and was great for playing games, but I never worked up the courage to write.  

It’s necessary to say all of this, because perhaps, it will help you understand what happened when I finally obliged my muse.   Writing was more effective than any anti-depressant, and the therapy was invaluable. Who needs counselors and psychiatrists to deal with grief when you can create another world to provide an escape?

For the next thirty months, I wrote.  When one novel ended, and I felt depression tap me on the shoulder, I immediately, began again.  
Much growth came from that lengthy mental purge. I found a way to heal and was eternally grateful. However, I didn’t edit.  I ran a spell check and saved the document, then moved on to the next.  I posted them on a couple of websites  knowing they needed major over hauls.  

A fear of editing was born from the fact, that I never did it.  When I read articles or got advice that required more than the grammar program on Microsoft Word, it came close to sending me into a catastrophic panic attack.  I have come to realize that editing at that time, meant more than correcting the passive voice in my story.  It meant revising the very real emotions which drove my plot lines.   It was difficult to open those wounds and allow them to produce characters the first time, and I didn’t want to spend days, weeks, months, maybe even years, rereading it.

As with all things, I developed in my writing and even though, I still protested heavily against editing, I began to WANT to polish the stories.  I wanted people to read them, and not only relate to them, but understand the amount of time and effort I had bestowed upon my tales.  2011 dawned, and I  developed a completely different outlook on the “E” word.

I’ve made a promise to myself to get, at least, a couple of those manuscripts ready for publishing.  It’s an enormous undertaking and in the beginning, I was overwhelmed.  Any author knows that the process involves more than killing commas and overused pronouns.  The items on my checklist seem to grow exponentially, and two or three years ago, I might have thrown my laptop in the garbage before accepting the challenge.

Once again, I find myself surprised.  I have found excitement in something, which before was an awful chore.  I delight in finding ways to make the story better, the characters more rounded, and the scenes move as they should.  I never saw that one coming.  There are days when I can’t wait to sit down and edit.

I work better when there are rules and guidelines to keep me on track, and am in the process of developing a list of “stuff” to check when all the words are in place.  You all know them; head hopping, autonomous body parts, effect before cause.  I’m not afraid anymore, and once again I have to thank the phenomenal writers who have befriended me, for helping me recognize how we all walk similar paths.

I  wanted to share this battle I’ve waged against editing.  It’s the same hard-headed response, I have to all change and challenge.  However, in the end, when I faced the fear and found a way to make it less frightening, it is something I truly enjoy.  Now, if I can balance writing with editing and not jump off into one or the other until I’m afraid to step out again, then I will have truly accomplished something.

Cheers and Happy Writing…and Editing 🙂

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