On Wednesday at 1pm, I sat down in front of my computer, opened up the latest draft of the novel I’m working on*, and got to work. Other than getting up to refill my water glass, grab a snack, etc, I only took one actual break – around 8pm I took a half-hour to go get Taiyaki.
When I was finished, it was 1am. Over the past 12 hours, I had gone through the entire novel – almost 60,000 words.
Now, you’d probably think that I’d be done, but nope. On Thursday I spent time picking away at newly-written scenes, making sure that the changes fit and nothing sounded clumsy or thrown in. I also had to add a few things I’d forgotten to include. And on Monday I'll probably read the whole thing over again.
Sometimes editing seems like insanity, reading the same thing over and over, wondering if that comma belongs there or if it should be deleted. Or wondering you used the right word for the moment or if there’s a better word out there somewhere. ‘Very’ sounds lazy, but ‘extremely’ sounds too severe – where’s my thesaurus…?
I think the Bard from Something Rotten put it best**:
And you're trying to find an opening line Or a brilliant idea and you're pacing the floor And hoping for just a bit of divine intervention That one little nugget, that one little spark Then Eureka! You find it, you're ready to start So now you can write, right? Wrong! You're not even close, you remember that damn it Your play's gotta be in iambic pentameter! So you write down a word but it's not the right word So you try a new word but you hate the new word And you need a good word but you can't find the word Oh where is it, what is it, what is it, where is it? Blah-blah-blah, ha ha, ah-ha -UGHHHHHHHH!
But even though editing can be annoying and time consuming – putting your heart and soul into making something the best version it can be, and fretting over the smallest, tiniest, minuscule detail – there’s no feeling better than when you fix a problem in a scene and it becomes so much better than it was.
And if you’re really stuck on what to do with those commas, get an editor and leave it in their hands.
* The Fifth Queen (sequel to The Six Elemental) coming out… eventually…
**From the song "It's Hard to be the Bard"