I wrote this post the first time, pouring my heart into it, and…. everything got deleted. I decided I would let it go, not write it again. But then I couldn’t stop thinking about it and so I knew I just had to do over. *waves fist at WordPress*. So here we go. Again.
The Beauty In Editing
Editing is a super daunting process. Yet I recently encountered a post where a writer said it was her favorite part of writing, and I was floored. It kept me wondering for a while what anyone could possibly enjoy about the oft frightening process.
- Was it the halt of her heart when she got that super long note on what needed to be changed?
- Was it the stabbing pain when a beta reader said a character’s plight was not moving enough?
Eventually, the answer came to me.
I wrote DESTITUTES AND FIENDS very fast, within two weeks. And even though I edited it before querying agents, that process was also done in days. Days after querying it, I started getting full requests and not too long after, I got my first offer of representation. It was all great, and yet—AND YET, through all of it I didn’t really feel like the story was mine. Like the characters were mine.
It was all so distant.
If someone asked me what books I’d written in hopes of publication, I would chatter on about my YA Fantasy A PRECINCT OF FLAMES or DIADEM, my YA Dystopian. But not D&F. When talking to writers about my book, I’d talk about APOF so much that they’d think it was the book that had gotten me my agent. And on Twitter, whenever I had to answer questions about my book, I’d talk about APOF, when I probably should’ve been getting word out about D&F—the book closest to submissions.
My agent and her colleagues loved D&F so much and each time they’d gushed about it during the process of choosing an agent, I smiled happily but I didn’t really really feel the pride someone who’d toiled over something would. Because the story honestly seemed to have emerged out of thin air. Like someone plucked it out of air and said, ‘here, go query this book’. (Now I wonder if Zeus really did love Athena, hmm.)
It wasn’t because I didn’t think D&F was amazing (it’s one of my best work!). So when did I start writing this well? There was no real struggle with it. It just flowed out once and hit jackpot. And it wasn’t as if I didn’t love it. Each time, I opened it to skim through I fell deeply in love with the story, with the characters, it was my baby. And so I felt guilty that once I closed it, I lost that attachment to it.
I couldn’t understand why this was so.
Until I got an editorial note from my agent and had to work very closely with D&F all through December to January. This drew me deeper into D&F’s world in a way I hadn’t been before. It kept me close to the characters until I was spending practically every hour with them. Either writing to improve areas or thinking about how to improve areas.
Working longer with the story gave me the opportunity to explore the world further. To weave my soul into it and discover so much about the characters and their stories. I got so accustomed to spending time with the MS that even when I had to wait for beta-reader feedback, I’d miss the story and atmosphere so much that I’d consider going back to tweak things randomly just to stay in touch. And this is how it is for me with APOF. I’m always missing the characters, I’m always craving the mood of scenes, and I’m constantly thinking about the world.
So what changed with D&F? Why did the story suddenly feel so much a part of me?
It was then it finally hit me. Why I’d felt detached from D&F initially. (You’ve probably figured it out by now). It was because of how little time I’d spent working on the first draft.
I spent months (over a year now), working on my Fantasy series. Writing it, editing it, learning infinite new things about the world and characters. I spent months on DIADEM too. But I’d only spent weeks with D&F before it found an agent, and even then my thoughts had majorly been on getting an agent before the year ended than on the experience of writing.
And soon, I came to realize that as scary as it might initially be, that’s what editing does. Some of us churn out first drafts in 1 – 2 months, yet spend months and years afterwards improving and polishing the book. And, I learned that it’s during this process we develop our bond with our stories. Those days spent poring over it, uncovering new pockets in my world I hadn’t known had existed. Learning what makes my characters smile or laugh or cringe. Those kickass traits they don’t explicitly show but always lingers beneath the surface. Unearthing hidden components that come together to fill plot holes and make the story more solid. It’s when we find those unique elements in our worlds and unearth them to create beautiful magic.
You can hardly miss or feel bonded to someone you meet in a day in comparison to a friend you’ve known and loved for months/years. A friend you didn’t just have great days with, but also arguments and misunderstandings that needed time and love and dedication to be fixed. A friend who you now know almost like you know yourself. And you’d hardly miss a place you visited for a week as much as you’d miss somewhere you’ve called home for years. It’s the same relationship with we writers and our books.
So that’s the beauty I’ve found in editing. The opportunity it provides for me to dive deeper into my stories and to weave my soul through them. 🙂
Do you enjoy editing? Do you dread it?
L.O. Nobi is an avid writer, one of her prominent projects DESTITUTES AND FIENDS on submissions to editors. She’s a lover of words, Disney, and represented by her awesome agent. You can find her tweeting here, or visit her personal blog here.