A land forged from the fires of strife, blood of heroes, and touch of the gods.
Where deeds of great valor, vile evils, and blazing passions intertwine
to shape the course of elven and human history within.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

That Old Pavlovian Response

I don't enjoy editing; most authors I've discussed it with don't. We wish we were good enough to get the words and phrases right the first time so we wouldn't have to write it all over again. But it's part of the process (gee, where have I heard THAT before?) and it's what make or breaks a story. If the editor finds the real heart of the story and can point out the issues with the rest of it, usually things turn out OK. If not, all the author is really doing is writing the same story with different words or phrases, but the underlying issues still remain. This is the main reason authors should never edit their own work; we're too close to it and can't see the proverbial forest for the trees. 
Belonging to a writing group helps; your fellow writers can see things with different eyes and attitudes, showing you things you didn't (or wouldn't) see, and they can be addressed during the editing phase. But having an editor go through the whole thing, once the author is SURE it's perfect, is always a good idea.
But that's not why I'm here today; you all knew that stuff, as do I. I'm here to talk about what happens in my particular case when I edit my stories, and there's only one way to describe it; zzzzzzzzzz.....
You see, I like to read in bed just before I turn out the light; a favorite book, probably one I've read a dozen times, or occasionally a new work I've just picked up. Problem is, I'm pretty tired after a long day at the office, or editing, or moving a ton (literally, a TON) of rock into the back yard from my truck bed, one scoop at a time. So a couple of pages, maybe four or five at the most, and I'm out. Gone to dreamland. Bye bye til sunrise everybody. Nightie-night.
And that's OK; after all, the reason I'm reading is to relax my mind and get a good night's sleep. However, there is a flaw in my plan.
You see, when I start editing my stories, the old response kicks in, and the next thing I know, I wake up in my office chair with papers all over the floor (good thing I numbered them, right?). So I scoop them up and get a glass of water, or load the dishwasher, or do SOMETHING to wake up, then try it again. 
And I usually get fuzzy after three, or four, or five pages... again. And end up going back over what I just did... again.
I've tried things, believe me. Different places in the house, different chairs, going to Panera Bread or McDonald's or someplace besides my office. Works for a while, but then Mr. Sandman, accompanied by that conditioned response, comes around and I find my head on the table next to my red pen.
I'm sure age has something to do with it (not that I'm THAT old, but a nap is a treasured thing, you know). But I'm more sure it's years of training (comfy bed, covers, maybe a gentle breeze through the window) and the fact that virtually the ONLY time I read recreationally is at bedtime. 
So what do I do? I manage. I pace myself. I deal with it. And eventually I get through the editing process, even if I have to do it more than once. On every page.
Editing... (shudders)


Dave Whitaker said...

Denny, you are probably right that most writers don't enjoy the editing process. However, I actually like editing more than the original writing.

Dennis Young said...

You're a strange man, Dave. :o)