The Thrill of Editing

I must say, I’m having a lot of fun editing. Two years or so ago, I was about to publish Brilliant Disguise. Had it completely edited (I thought), formatted, etc. Was  about to push that publish button, when for some reason, I thought, no. Let it sit a while longer.

Two years later now. Far longer than I had anticipated. (Other writing projects consumed my attention.) I pulled out Brilliant Disguise, thinking to review it briefly, and then publish. I started to read. And to my surprise, I found that the story needed substantial editing. A bit of a shock, and not a pleasant one. Apparently, my writing skills had improved considerably in the intervening years. Once I got over that initial jolt, I sat down, blue editing pen in hand, and began to edit.

And edit. And edit. And edit. I’ve found the process to be absolutely thrilling. Taking a piece of writing that has good underlying bones, though somewhat obscured by inessentials, and stripping away the unnecessary to reveal the true story. What a charge. What a rush. Now far more clear and elegant, though maintaining depth and complexity.  The story I wanted to tell. The one I originally envisioned.

Editing requires sheer ruthlessness. Every last unnecessary word, sentence, paragraph must be deleted. That can hurt. Obliterating a phrase that sounded so pretty when being written, cutting and cutting tens to hundreds of hours worth of beloved labor, wrastling and wrangling and wresting it all into shape. But now that I’ve learned to be ruthless, I find great pleasure in the cutting and rewriting. It is nearly the best part of writing, watching the essential emerge in vivid image. Turning vision to words, which in turn evoke that vision. Good, happy fun! True elation.


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