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The Many Joys of Editing

When it comes to editing, the lines often - unfortunately - merge with rewriting. I've been deep into editing a new novel for the last...God, I think I'm coming up on a month now. Ugh. I want to work on something new! But stopping in the middle of editing is like stopping in the middle of writing a sex scene - Don't Do It! (That's my motto, anyway.) Stop, and the momentum disappears with a forlorn little fizzle. Stop, and I know very well that the project will sit for ages while I distract myself from it and find ever more creative avoidance methods. It's amazing, the many excuses I can come up with to put off finishing when I really work at it!

Most of the time, editing isn't all that horrible, really. I'm kind of an organization freak, and that's what it is. Organizing words and scenes, trying to make the whole book clean and neat. Most of the time. Sometimes, though, editing becomes a broiling, seething portal into hell. Okay, that was a bit dramatic, but you get the idea. It's when those fine lines between editing and rewriting start to blur. When I realize there are obnoxious holes in my plot sequence, or my sex scene doesn't make sense where I put it. Or, in this case, where one character has completely overtaken the book. Fine, it's his book, but there is a second person in this relationship!

My book The Lonely Heart was like that to finish (coming out this fall with TEB, so I did finally get it done!). I spent darn near six months with the blasted thing after putting "The End" on it. Of course, some of that was my fault. I kept poking at it, kept editing, and did my very best to avoid rewriting on any kind of larger scale. It was when I finally gave it and began pulling the scenes apart that progress finally began to show. So, this time, I'm not letting myself avoid the rewriting. It's still a slow process; deleting is hard. I imagine I'm like most writers in that aspect, though. I don't like to let go. I have a bunch of files on my computer full of bits and pieces, portions of scenes that didn't really work. "But I can't delete that! I might find a use for it!" Sure, I'll find some wonderful place to stick those two sentences that aren't that fabulous after all. I'm a hoarder, only with my words. Short and pithy? Not me. My books always end up longer after editing than before.

One of these days, I'll learn that magic recipe, the perfect synthesis between editing and rewriting. Until then, I'll just keep poking at my words and hoping that out of the tangled mess will come a nice, neat tale. It's worked so far. And now, it's back to work. I think I need to start at the beginning again...

K.M. Mahoney
Come Wander With Me

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