Seeing Red

I’m seeing RED this week. Not just in my head, but on the screen. It’s Slasher Week in the Dawson-Holly household. Like, no holding back, slice and dice kind of red.

Editing is messy work. It’s downright bloody. It’s the kind of disaster big enough that no excessive amounts of drop-cloths can keep the arterial sprays from hitting the walls. It sucks, but someone has to do the first round.

Recently I went through the last bits of two WIP’s and cut, highlighted, replaced, reworded, gutted and overhauled until I literally saw RED in my mind. The bratty little untrained editor inside my head is running around in circles with a chewed pen in one hand and a knife in the other – and she means business.

Even if someone hires an editor, like I do, you still must edit your own work. But, how is it that you can go from this:

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To your inner editor coming back with this:

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Sigh. I try. Really, I do. But I’m not a professional editor – I’m a writer. The creativity comes out in spurts when the Muse is well-fed which means sometimes I sit and stare at the same paragraph for hours, trying to remember if ‘the’ is spelled correctly or not, and other times I breeze through an entire chapter without stopping to breathe. Then I let that little brat of a wannabe editor have at it. And, well…

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After my Muse’s alter-ego has her way with my WIP, I’m drained. Often times I let it get to me – the painful process of doing the first round of editing. It’s an experience that can turn most writers inside out, especially when we know the difference between ‘too’ and ‘to’ but keep finding both in the wrong places.

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Yet, once the first go around of editing is complete, I find, surprisingly enough, that I have survived, as has my Muse and that little girl inside that likes to eat the ends of her red pens. She just wants to give me a big hug and tell me how much she cares about the artistic side of my brain. Sometimes she even goes so far as to tell me how she REALLY feels…

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So we hug it out. I forgive her for making me feel like a failure but I’ll always keep an eye on the knife she has tucked in the waistband of her jeans. I’m incredibly aware that she could pull that blade out at ANY time and stab my WIP till it bleeds to death. I told you, she’s a brat. I suppose I need her though. If it was just me and my Muse, we’d be in big trouble. Because the worse thing my pen chewing and knife-wielding self-taught editor could do is leave me. I…I don’t know what I’d do if she told me it was over between us. I would have to invest in more chocolate and new red pens and hope I didn’t ruin our relationship forever.

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Don’t tell her I said she was a brat. I don’t think she’d like it. Especially after cleaning up the beginning of my new WIP so nicely. Thanks to her fit this week, now I can go back to feeling a tad bit more fabulous and like I know what I’m doing. I’m a writer. I must write. Right? Watch out, we’re flying our way through this chapter to the next – the Muse, the Inner Editor and I. We are a force to be reckoned with and I guess I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Happy Editing and Reading, Everyone!

Wednesday Writing Tip

Some writers are great at editing. I’m not one of those. I am getting better, but editing is my nemesis. When I first started writing, I asked a few of my computer savvy and word savvy friends to help me proof my first few books. I didn’t hire an editor for financial reasons. At the time I thought it was an expense I could hold off on. Not my finest moment, I admit.

Editing for your book is just as integral as oxygen is for your lungs…it really is that important.

Without a proper professional edit, a book is not all it can be. Some writers do it all, and I give them kudos and massive props. But for those of us that tell the story and read it so many times after finishing the first draft that the word ‘the’ starts to look foreign, we need an editor. The difference can be making a 3 star review into a 5 star review. Trust me, I have a few of these myself.

So my lesson over the last year is to pay for the services I’m not a professional in. I have taught myself how to format my books, how to market and such…but editing is still my struggle. I’m a comma Whore. I’m a fragmented sentence Queen. And it’s easy for me to glance over ‘their’ when it should be ‘there’ even though I know the difference, especially after I have read through the book a gazillion times already. But, wait…there is hope for those of you just like me!

Hire an editor. A real one. Your grammar-nazi friends are awesome, just like mine are, but unless they know the in’s and out’s of editing a book, your work might not reach its best potential. My Editor will be going through my earlier works and I’ll be republishing them hopefully before the close of this year, so I know the best work I can have out there – is out there. 🙂

If you have NO idea where to find an editor, ask your Author friends, family members, or search for them online. You need to find someone that connects with your writing style, and isn’t afraid to mark up your baby with a lot of red text. This is the way it should be. An editor’s job is to make sure the work you send them is better. This doesn’t mean you, as a writer, suck. It means that you, as a writer, can be better. Like I said, I’m not an editor. And I don’t want to be. Now I pay for one, and it’s the best money I’ve spent in my writing career. Trust me, it’s worth it.

 

Happy Reading!