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When is Editing like Gardening?

The bunny who came to visit my garden last April!
Will he return?
I received this profound knowledge approximately an hour ago as I said fini to this morning's endeavors in my garden.

In south Texas when spring is in the air, you have to shake a tail feather to get your herbs and flowers planted. April is usually 70-80 degrees with breezes you write and read about. Think: gentle rustle through the treetops or, the sweet breeze in my long blonde hair. Plants, tender little shoots, adore this and spread their leaves up up up. (Yes, this makes me poetic, although the words are nothing to write home about.) May comes with sunshine, little rain, and a gradual heating that by June 1 can climb to 100 degrees. (Yes, we know first hand the effects of global warming. We see how the drought of the past few years has cracked our ground cover, what little there is of it here where caliche is an inch beneath the soil.)

But this morning as I began edits on a manuscript I have received from my editor yesterday, I sat down to complete my due diligence. Checking off my editor's list of items, I happily skipped along until viola! I had completed all but the most thought-provoking aspects.

Take a break then?

I did, Dear Reader.

After two or so hours of editing, anyone needs a break. It can be tedious. Definitely not creative. So I said, Enough! Have a drink! Lunch! And put those 3 little pots into your garden.

How does my garden grow in what will become the Hot House of Summer in Texas?

Fifteen years since I moved here, fifteen years of killing nearly every green thing I put my hand to,  I finally have solutions to nurturing plants. I use pots that I can move as the sun travels the sky during the summer months, which here—hold on to your hat—can really mean as long as April through November.

How to begin to weed a garden?

Same as with a manuscript. You start with the ugly stuff, the obvious errors of spelling and grammar, syntax. Then if you haven't already, the errors in logic must come next.

Last week in my garden, I weeded the big ugly stuff. (I had done this job on my WIP before I sent it off to my editor a few weeks ago!)

Today, I was ready to do a bit more. On both my manuscript and my garden.

  • I weeded more. Moral: A writer can edit until she/he is blue. Weeding your garden is a fine idea. Over-editing your WIP might mean you are taking your Voice out of it.
  • I rearranged some pots for annuals. Moral: In a manuscript, some elements need to be moved for effectiveness or drama. Move too much, you lose the natural flow or feel of the original story.
  • I gave everything a shot of Juice! Moral: I deleted the repetitive words. My editor calls them echoes. I like that. Echoes. Hello, hello, helloooo. This makes the text more dramatic, charming, too.
  • I found a few more weeds. Moral: I changed the remaining verbs that sounded like dreck to ones that SAID something, for godssakes. (Yes, I am BIG on great verbs. The verb to be and all its forms? Shakespeare used it well. Once. 'To be or not to be, that is the question.' Amen.)
  • I pruned my roses. While I may. I hear you out there snorting, but I have learned that roses here like to reach for this scorching sun and in the process, they spend all their time growing upward and never flourishing. Moral: Once I finish this little blog, I am back to the final stage, the bigger challenge of the final edit, looking at all my editor's comments once more. Then walking away, I will  ask myself the final Big Questions: Is this story perfect? Is it complete? Is it what I intended?
  • I secured the fence. And came inside to write this and tell you about it. Moral: A family of bunnies came last year and munched on my basil and parsley, then started on my impatiens and carnations. Not until they had nibbled for a day or so did I notice. Moral: Who are these creatures? BAH! I think they are the pirates who come to eat the fruit of our hard labors, stealing from authors what profits should be theirs! Yes, this is a plug to kill all pirates, who are killing our joy in creating. And now back to our regularly scheduled topic: editing.
  • Finally, in gardens, one often grows more than one intended. Or perhaps the yield is not quite what one hoped for. Moral: Celebrate when the work is just as you conceived it. And if not quite, then here is the motivation to write the next work, make it perfectly state what you originally dreamt.
Today's endeavors yield tomorrow's flowers and fruits. I'm ready for the delights of it all!


Sage Marlowe said...

Lovely post! Thanks for that.
I think I'll have to read it again when I start editing for the first time, which will hopefully be at some point in the coming week - maybe even more so since pretty much every plant I ever lay hands on is dead...

Delicious Romance From Cerise DeLand said...

SAGE! Good. Glad I helped!

Lily said...

Fab post. Made me smile really wide :-)

Lily x

Delicious Romance From Cerise DeLand said...

LILY! So delighted you came, you read, you commented!