I take it back: editing can be fun

The big edit has begun. Progress is slower than I had hoped but I am moving forward and learning what is realistic. 50 pager per day wasn’t. 25 is looking doable. There’s a good chance that I’ll finish the big edit before I start working full-time again.

Editing used to be my least favourite part of writing. I enjoy the mad rush of the totally rubbish draft: chucking words on paper, not worrying about quality. I enjoy the first fiddle when I’m trying to kick that draft into some kind of shape. But then comes the fine calibration, proper editing, a process I’ve always found a pain.

Not so with this project.

I’m really enjoying editing. It could be that because this is a big project (I want to get it down to 80K), the problems are more greater and therefore fixing them is more satisfying than when poking about in a short story. It’s could be something else. I don’t know. All I know is that sitting down in front of my computer, crossing out proof marks and removing sticky notes from paper pages, solving problems, removing words and clearing up scenes, is fun. Really good fun.

Years ago, my friend Hamish told me he liked editing because he enjoyed kicking his story into shape. Editing allows you to turn a half-formed mess into a story. For maybe the first time, I wholeheartedly agree with him.

It really feels as if I’m making the story better, binding events together, shaping characters, and tightening up the plot. Editing a short story has never been this satisfying.

I think part of my enjoyment is that this project is big enough to take over my brain. I go for a walk, I think about structure. I cook, I think about specific scenes. I watch television, I do research. It’s the closest I’ve come to complete immersion in one of my own stories. I like it.

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could do a first draft in the same way: focused, living in the world, engrossed in my own creation? I have a strong feeling that the first draft would be better if I could write it in a great gushing flood instead of bursts of trickling brooks.

It’s a lovely theory and one I’ve set a small part of my brain aside to work on. I need to test it. In November, maybe. I still have an outline for the sequel.

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