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Editing

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michellemoran
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Editing

Post by michellemoran » Sun May 9th, 2010, 9:46 pm

I'm currently going through my editor's notes for MADAME TUSSAUD, making changes and wondering how quickly and painlessly I can get through them (to be fair, there's not a lot, but does anyone really like editing? That's a serious question. Because I hate it). Then I came across this post on Editorial Ass and thought, "Oh crap, is that what I'm doing?" Aiming for the low bar when this could be the last and final pass?

It never occurred to me before, but the recently common (or it seems recent to me) phrase, "It is what it is," is actually rather defeatist. My mother uses it frequently, but when I think back on it, she only started using it after my father passed away. She uses it so much that a friend actually bought her a key-chain inscribed with it, which dangles merrily next to her Hamsa key-chain (I wonder if the two somehow cancel each other out). I'm sure she doesn't think of it as negative, but at least where it concerns editing, "Editorial Ass" is right.

Interesting - and timely - post!
Last edited by michellemoran on Sun May 9th, 2010, 9:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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SarahWoodbury
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Post by SarahWoodbury » Sun May 9th, 2010, 10:36 pm

"Creativity is exhausting."

That to me is the telling sentence. I think I can't help but look at edits as something to get through quickly and painlessly, but it's definitely not the way to do it. I have just rewritten for the umpteenth time my latest book and sent it to my agent. I have finally made the changes that a really annoying editor suggested A YEAR AGO that I couldn't face at the time. I actually used the words 'it is what it is'--not in what I thought was a defeatest way, but because the changes she was asking for would make it a different book. I didn't want to write a different book.

And now I have. And it's better. A lot better. And I took my time, making pass after pass through it as I made the plot tighter and the writing cleaner. If I got tired, I stopped for the day. I focused on one sentence at a time. What I feel like now, having done that, is that I have done the best job I can, right now. I may have to rework it again, but today, it's the best I can make it.

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michellemoran
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Post by michellemoran » Sun May 9th, 2010, 10:47 pm

That's fantastic, Sarah. I know how mentally exhausting it is to make major changes to a book. The hubby and I play Scrabble sometimes, and he can always tell when I've had an intense writing or editing day based on my score. And it's true. On days when I've been going through a manuscript and making difficult changes, I don't have the energy left over to make any more words, even simple ones. But as EA writes at the end of the post, it's imperative that writers go through the MS again and again... and then sometimes again.
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Anna Elliott
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Post by Anna Elliott » Mon May 10th, 2010, 12:59 am

Oh, Michelle--I SO feel your pain! I have my (basically still unopened) final editorial pass from my editor on my third book on my bookshelf, chuckling evilly at me every time I look at it because I just can't face going over it yet again. Even though my editor tells me that it's in great shape, even though everything she's suggested is extremely minor. (I'm like a year+ ahead of schedule on this book, so my avoidance isn't quite as irresponsible as it sounds!). But anyway, what I always find is that for me the anticipation of edits is way worse than the actual editing work. Once I get started, I can just take it bit by bit. I say to myself, Today, I am just going to focus on these 3 editorial notes. That way I don't get too overwhelmed, and I can do the best job on each individual task.

Anyway, good luck!! And thanks for the timely post--maybe this will help me break down the mental barrier to tackling my editing job! :)
Last edited by Anna Elliott on Mon May 10th, 2010, 1:14 am, edited 3 times in total.

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parthianbow
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Post by parthianbow » Mon May 10th, 2010, 9:12 am

I too know what you mean, Michelle and Sarah. Creativity is exhausting, and the rewrites I had to do for my second novel (25% of the total ms. - on two occasions :( ) meant that I dreaded the editorial post-it notes on the ms., and the meetings I had with my editor. But the process helped my writing so so much, and although I too want to rush through any edits (and still do to some extent), they are vital things to do, as for me, the editor can see 'the wood for the trees' so much more than I can.

I'm in the fortunate position of having an external copy editor who acts like an old-fashioned editor, as well as my own inhouse editor (who is also a real stickler). Between the pair of them, they make the most astute and insightful observations which make me say 'Oh yeah, why on earth didn't I think of that?' And so even though I want to throw the corrected ms. at the wall and say it's finished - "I don't want to make any more changes!", I invariably battle on to insert/add/rewrite the relevant sections because they make the books so much better.
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juleswatson
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Post by juleswatson » Mon May 10th, 2010, 10:53 am

This is so timely Michelle, because I am entering my last week of edits before they are finally, finally due. Due to various reasons (compassionate "leave" to Australia, moving to the US, house renovations to let us move to US) this book has been written over 18 months. I handed it in with a big flourish, arrived here all jet laggy and thought I would have a month maybe to settle in, put some roots down, relax etc etc and then be all fresh to do rewrites - and instead I just got here and got them back a WEEK later. (which is actually great in some ways because it meant there were not large things to do) I was so resistant about going straight back to work!!! I also have just been gritting my teeth, thinking "I am SO over it" So tired, so drained, so "have given my all". And then something strange happened, and I realized it was my last chance to be with these characters, last chance to make it better, and I fell back in love with it. In once more going over the part with the famous mythical fight between the Celtic heroes Cuchulainn and Ferdia, I suddenly thought, "This is the one of the most famous, tragic and moving sword battles in all ancient myth and I actually got a chance to write it" (write it again in my way I mean) And suddenly I felt very honored that I had the chance to reimagine a great tale of myth / history and put my own spin on it; feel it through me. I started to feel very grateful for that (and it was only tiredness making me feel ungrateful, I hasten to add). So now, entering the last week I feel emotional and willing to do my best, rather than "blah, I am so over it" And now, I do feel that I have done the best I could in the time and circumstances I had, and I feel proud rather than rushing it off my desk, and that is the way you should hand a book in, after all. So yes, very timely. And thank the gods!!! :eek:
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Post by Libby » Mon May 10th, 2010, 8:54 pm

I'm a perfectionist and I enjoy editing. I've just finished a very last minute and rushed edit for my novel and I wish that I'd had much more time and input from the publisher/editor. I was willing to do so much more.
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Post by fljustice » Mon May 10th, 2010, 11:48 pm

I've been avoiding the vast email with edits/suggestions on my second novel for three months. I guess it's more than time to get started. Thanks for the post - very inspiring!
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Tue May 11th, 2010, 1:32 am

Editing can get wearying, no question about it. But whenever I get tired of it, I hark back to my home-design days, when I used to tack a blueprint up on the hall wall along with the client's list of priorities, and think about it every time I went past. There were so many great changes that I thought about during that time which I didn't think of on the first pass.

Unlike writing, once you start building it, getting that better idea half-way-though can really cost in workman's hours, client dollars and materials.

I understand that those who must write for a living cannot afford to tweak the manuscript endlessly. But the quantity of tweaking directly affects the quality of the product. The more, the better.

I tell my stories orally to an audience first. I have several anecdotes that I have told for years, and they are almost always sure to get a laugh/ keep the audience on the edge of their seats, or whatever the point of the story is. The old ones are much better than they were when I first told them, because I have honed the order of presentation, the words chosen, and the punchlines. One reason I am slow to seek any sort of publication where the words are 'set in stone' is because I would hate to be stuck with yesterday's way of telling when today I have thought of a better one.

Yes, I sometimes get sick of the old story. But with each new hearer, it becomes a new story, because it is combining with that person's life experience to reveal interesting ramifications, and their reaction to it is new. That is something I never tire of.

Learned to measure the effect of words chosen doing fundraising for nonprofits. If it doesn't catch their hearts, it won't bring in the money.

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Post by SarahWoodbury » Tue May 11th, 2010, 2:19 am

And as a first step, the editing paid off as my agent called today and says the book is ready to go out to publishers! Yay!

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