What Editing My Novel Has Taught Me

Caution: Frustrated and possibly armed writer editing ahead
Caution: Frustrated and possibly armed writer editing ahead

I’ve been spending the last couple of weeks editing Willows of Fate, using comments left by one of my betas (baby, I love you so much I want to buy you all the chocolate in the world).  My frustration doesn’t stem from my beta’s comments.  If anything, they are wise and insightful.

There’s just something deeply painful about editing a novel.  It’s like going to an aerobics class taught by a sadist.  On the one hand, you know that what you’re doing will probably benefit you in the end.  On the other, you want to commit seppuku just to make the pain go away.  However, that isn’t to say that the process hasn’t taught some very valuable lessons, some of which I already knew and some of which I needed to be reminded.

What editing my novel has taught me about the life and nature of writing:

1. It’s not good to write how you speak.

Willows of Fate is unusual for me because it is the only book I’ve written in the first person present tense.  I normally write third person past tense.  During writing, I began to slip into certain wordings I use when I’m with my brother or those who grew up in my region.  I noticed this and decided to keep on, thinking it would give a little authenticity to my character’s voice.

I learned from my beta that all I did was confuse the crap out of her.

2. Perseverance is the name of the game.

I’m not doing anything glamorous.  I’m not sitting on a mountaintop, sipping a cappuccino.  I’m using the Find and Replace feature to cut down on all the nodding and sighing my characters do.  And it’s boring.

3. I live and die for those moments when the reader goes “HOLY CRAP”.

I have an ego and I call her Li’l Suze.  We’re quite good friends.

4. If I didn’t love this I wouldn’t do it.

I have never been more validated in the fact that this is my calling.  If this wasn’t my calling, I wouldn’t make a point of sitting in front of the computer for hours, eating my lunch at the computer, and completely ignoring lovely days while I untangle grammar snarls and decide if the word I’m using works or if I should get my thesaurus.  And, on top of all that, I’m not even getting paid.

The good news, though, is the end is in sight and–

No.  Wait.  That’s not the end.  That’s just a train coming to tell me that I need to extend tension in Chapter Twenty.

Dammit.

I have to go back to work now.

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