I’ve lived through the first week of my summer, which means that in between missing all my amazing friends, rejoicing that classes are over for a bit, and having existential crises about my future, I have time to really throw myself into editing my novel and take from it an atrocious, for-my-eyes-only draft to something that maybe other people will actually want to look at (if I’m lucky).
Allow me, dear friends, to take you through the various stages of the editing process. Please note that your mileage may vary, but this is how I experienced it.
- You pounded out your first draft in a blaze of inspired glory, and are pretty sure you’re the next Shakespeare, and if readers and/or agents don’t like it, then they’re a bunch of stupid squares who just don’t understand your true delicate genius:
- After forcing yourself to put aside the manuscript for a period of time, you come back to it with the objectivity of some weeks away, and what you see there makes you want to pull a Ron Swanson and never again write another word. You are certain that your friends are just being nice when they compliment your writing.
- You force yourself back into it, mostly running on caffeine and being surprisingly productive at odd hours (such as 2:00 AM and 10:00 AM), rewarding yourself for every completely edited
chapter sentenceword with a piece of leftover Easter candy.
And here we are.
So far, much of my editing has actually been complete rewriting, but what I don’t have to rewrite, I have been tweaking. If the first draft is the crap draft, then the second draft is the craft draft. This is where I get to throw out all the trash that I spewed out earlier for the sake of getting words down and refine what’s left into productive scenes, pertinent details, and improved prose. This is where I get to generally make it pretty.
I’m about a third of the way done with the rewriting. Some major pieces of the story ended up getting changed after I reread that first draft that I finished back in March, and I think for the better. When I got the story out of my brain for the first time, I was rushing just to be done, and kept telling myself that if there were any problems I could fix them later on. Well, now it’s later on, and I’m even amazed at how much the intervening time has benefitted my story. It has made me more objective and willing to cut out parts that serve no purpose, even if I love them. It has allowed me to take the time and focus.
I think this post on Pinterest presented my thoughts on rewriting exactly: “You cannot get down to the fundamental level of change that’s required just by editing an existing document. You have to rebuild it if you really want your story to evolve.”
I am rebuilding.
Excuse me while I realize just how the rebuilding metaphor is relevant to my life right now.