On Wanting to Throw the Manuscript into the Air and Make a Run For It


Editing. If writing is a universe of universes in your mind, endless plains and planes of possibility, editing is the the grouchy little man who barks at you that your right little toe went off the path onto the weedy grass.

Editing is mean.

Editing is stingy.

Editing is the kind of exacting that never hands out an A in class. Never.

Editing is picking apart a sentence, putting it back together again, realizing that the grouchy little man was right, and slashing it completely. While writing might bring to mind the overwrought palace of Versailles, editing is strictly modern; it’s sleek, clean, all edges and no soft spots in which to hide.

Your inner editor, when unleashed, should feel at home as a villain in a Dickens or Bronte novel. Sparse. Austere.

Here’s the thing. We can fall in love with our ideas, we can fall in love with our language, but as writers, we have one job: to make sure readers get it. And sometimes too many ideas or too much language (or occasionally, too little) means they won’t.

So we take a machete to our work, and, as they say, kill our darlings. It’s not fun, as a rule. It’s not easy.

But it’s much the work of writing as the creation itself.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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