Posted in Of Bloggingly, Of Funnies, Of Life's Dramedies, Of Writingly

Of Editing

Editing is 50% writing. Not 90%, as some how-to-write books say. Not 10%, as amateur writers usually do. No, in writing, editing is as important as the writing itself.

Which is why it is such a blessing to be able to delegate it to someone else. Writing is like a two-sided coin. Heads, when you are enraptured by an idea that came out of nowhere, which you just have to explore on paper. Which, more often than not, is a happening you can cause to reoccur as often as you please. What I am trying to say is, writing is the easy part. No, I am not forgetting writer’s block. As I’ve talked about it before, writer’s block is more often a lifestyle block than a creative block. When and if such a block is removed, you’re in for a heady ride.

Resulting in a tailspin. Let’s not forget the other side of the coin. The boring Dr. Jekyll to our exciting, writerly Mr. Hyde. The other side of the coin is where emotions cease, to let the objective school master take over with his red pen (or wooden stick), ready to strike, along with his penetrative eyes. No folly, however infinitesimally small, is above his nuclear gaze. Whenever he sees some pathetic alien creature, such as a comma where it is not supposed to be, out comes his inner cyborg, with a simultaneous deep, robotic voice commanding, “Exterminate!”

Yes, writing is the easy part, for it is within you. Publishing is easy too, for it is without you, and there really is nothing you can do about it. But editing is what gets you from A to C. It is a channel to comb out the nits, to “kill your darlings”, to basically forget every emotion you ever felt as you wrote.

Now, you tell me, how is such behaviour possible for a single person? How can a writer be both creator and exterminator? And yet, this is the task I must undertake. As I have spent the last few months trying to find my blogging voice, I have happily written whenever the muse asked me. I have happily published, for WordPress has given me the almighty button called “Publish to Of Opinions”. My posts have been like letters I have written to the world, which any number of people, from 1 to perhaps 50, have read. But, these letters are still in my possession. I have the power to make changes and thus, make them better. But, my editing hat, also known as the amiable but inwardly sinister Dr. Jekyll, lies in the corner and I am afraid to put it on. Though I have in the past, even professionally. But, they were always for the passions of other people, which I only slaved to make perfect and presentable. Mine, I cannot. And I cannot afford to hire someone to do it either.

Does editing your work make you anxious?


Writer, Blogger, Kate Bush Fanatic

10 thoughts on “Of Editing

  1. I enjoy the editing and look on it as part of the writing. It’s during the editing that things take shape. Sometimes it’s during the editing that I find out what the thing is about. Before I start editing I normally think the piece is crap, by the time I’m done editing I’m convinced. 🙂

    1. I know some people who have similar feelings as well. So, I suppose it is possible. Me, I’d do anything, like tidying up my book shelves or going to the grocery store than come back and see how I can “fix” things!

      1. Try dividing the editing into several different steps. Here is what I do. After I transpose the handwritten piece to the computer, I read it through; read it backwards; read it aloud; proof a hard copy. I let some time go by between all of these steps. I usually go through this process at least two times. I normally work on several things at once, so I keep a log book that shows me where each piece is at in the process. Right now I have 17 articles somewhere in this process. Anyway, that’s how I do it.

      2. Thank you so much for the tips! This is the first piece I wrote for my blog that I actually wrote longhand first. Which is why I managed to get it under 500 words, something I want to, but am never able to do!

      3. It’s very hard to get people to read more than 1200 words on a blog. The most dramatic rewrite is that first one going from paper to the computer.

  2. I have no problem with the editing process. I often get off topic and ramble so going back and getting a piece back on track helps me feel better about posting it. My worry is that I am not editing well enough. I don’t know a lot about things like grammar and “passive voice” and when to use a comma and when not to. I edit the best I can but just like I want to be a better writer, I want to be a better editor too.

    1. I know what you feel Lisa. I know it will sound like I should practise what I preach, but good old ‘Strunk and White’ is really good for that kind of thing. Sometimes I think I am a lazy oaf for not looking it up often enough. Sometimes, I think I’m just scared of the grammar police if I happen to get something wrong. So, I conclude, its just more emotional than practical for me.

      My theory with passive voice and modern english’s complete distaste for it is that people do not have the patience to read all that is offered to them. Literature, even a century ago, has the passive voice everywhere. And though we’re asked to read that literature, we are to shun incorporating that style. I, honestly, don’t care about sticking to the active voice unless the editor actually asks me to.

  3. I don’t like to edit my own work, but I love to edit the work of others! Red pens were always my favorite in school. Sometimes it gets tedious… Once I offered to edit a dissertation and found that apparently one can write 300 plus pages about racism against Native Americans in late 19th early 20th century football!

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