Editing terrifies me. When I wrote in college, editing always took my work and twisted it into something it wasn’t at first. I began to think of editing as the process of bastardizing a work until it was ground beef, rather than the filet it was when it existed in my head.
Putting words onto the page (or computer screen) seemed to take some of the mystery away. There they were, for me to judge.
Sadly, I have always been my harshest critic. Don’t get me wrong, I like myself- I just don’t think I’m great at much. Sure, I can fumble my way through and get parts right, but it never ends up as sparkly on the page as it was when it was forming in my head.
Part of me just wants to send my first draft off the the beta reader I have waiting for my manuscript, but I know that would be a lazy cop-out. I know what’s wrong with the text already. I have to gut a few sections I want to keep in there badly, or at least find some way to salvage them.
Why would a reader want a whole chapter on a convenience store that doesn’t play much into the protagonist’s story? Sure, I know I really want to put the store in there. When I first heard the story of Empire on the evening news, the images I saw of the sign that said Welcome to Nowhere grabbed me. It was both hilarious and deeply sad to see. Especially with the events that were unfolding that led to the closing of the town.
But, as it is written right now, that information isn’t key to the story and it weighs the beginning of the novel down.
I know I have to re-write the first couple of chapters almost in their entirety. Sure, there are small bits I can save, but to introduce things and move the story forward, changes have to be made.
Getting to the point of actually making these changes; printing the story up for me to see all its flaws in black and white- that is truly terrifying to me. I know I will have my time sucked away soon by planning that has to be done for the school year. But, I also know that I’m using this fear as an excuse to delay finishing, so that I don’t have to see all the flaws.
That’s probably why I’m writing this post rather than working on the last two chapters…
I think I can do it. I obviously already know where the major faults are. I just have to find the right concrete to use to fill them up and make them go away. I also know that I have some help waiting there for when I have done all I can with the script.
That terrifies me too, though. Even though I grew up across the street from the person that will beta read it, I don’t know her well. I don’t know her tastes; what she looks for in a book.
That could be a good thing in the end, though. I want people who aren’t just like me to enjoy the book. I want to know the sections where people will question the logic of what’s happening.
I want to edit, I’m just terrified to actually do it.