All Posts Filed in ‘editing

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Things that disturb me

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  • How often I end up on celebrity-babies.com.
  • Driving while talking.
  • The level to which shoes > porn.
  • The tingle I get from a page covered in red pen.

So, I’m going to admit it: editing kind of turns me on. I did a lot of it in my previous job; the most satisfying feeling I get, professionally, is taking something complex and wordy and difficult and trimming and squeezing and shaping it into something simple. I dare anyone to turn a page of dense tax-related legalese into a set of one-syllable bullet points and not feel slightly attracted to them afterwards.

Turns out, editing my own work borders on indecent. Livejournal would put an adult content warning on it and hide it from the general public. I already knew I felt that way about short stories, in which I usually end up cutting more than I leave, but (so far) it’s exciting to know that editing something novel-length is just as delicious. It’s long, and it hurts, and I have to ditch stuff I liked, but watching this rambling word-monster of a manuscript get pruned and tugged and tightened into shape… well, it wets my noodle (even more than hyphenating things, which is my second-favourite new hobby).

I read a thousand books on writing, and they said a thousand different things, the most useful of which was Stephen King’s, which I think more-or-less (hyphenation!) boiled down to: do what feels right. So that’s my basic strategy.

Accordingly, I’m editing from the midpoint out and then the start back in. I already know the bulk of re-writing is in the first couple of chapters, but I’m not altering anything that affects later events, so it’s easier to start in the thick of things and go back to the beginning later. We’ll see if this works when I come back around.

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Dear self: you’re an idiot

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(Also known as: I use sentence case in titles because I don’t always know what to title in title case, what’s it to you?)

I’m pretty sure everyone who writes or creates – or thinks they’re way more awesome than other people do – spends a bunch of time wallowing around in their own head. According to my mum, I gave up sleeping at age five to free up more me-time. She’s always thought I spent my nights going over the events of the day, little brain tick-tick-ticking back over the contents of my sandpit or the Barbies I made my brother play.

Fuck that noise, I couldn’t have cared less about my day: I was preoccupied with working out the mechanics of my future life as a Lost Boy, or making sure I was prepared in case I happened to wake up with a tail or be captured by pirates. I’ve always enjoyed walks and bedtime and showers as opportunities to hang out inside my own head. Reality, like stinky cheese and early nights, is something I only developed an appreciation for as an adult.

But man, sometimes I have to stop thinking. I have to stop thinking about blogging, because… well, hi. Trying to be clever just isn’t. I want to punch myself in the face right now. And yet, I can’t seem to stop myself, much like I can’t seem to stop over-analysing everything I think is wrong with my novel.

Last night, after days of bitching and moaning to anyone who’d listen, pages of red pen flow diagrams packed with aggressively-punctuated URGENT CAPS!!, and a constant state of near-hysteria that I’m pretty sure has actually raised my metabolism, I re-wrote all my scene summaries from my first draft. I got myself so worked up about my story structure it took me DAYS to think of this. I’m so obsessed with everything that’s wrong or not perfect or de-scopes my future fanfic writers, I somehow forgot I already have a freaking story. I’m not fixing this plot in a vacuum: I have 320 pages of it sitting beside my bed.

A couple of hours and a glass of wine later, I had an updated outline from those scene summaries, and my red pen could go to work IN CONTEXT. The shortest distance between two points is to stop being a motherfucking idiot. Occam and/or his razor might also have some shit to say. I get so buried under the big picture and the end result and my insecurities and what-ifs and views on Zac Efron’s haircut that I lose my grip on my story. It all seems too big to fix and too terrible to bother.

Dear self: Relax. Stay small. Find the next step and take it. Zac Efron probably knows what he’s doing – trust that you do too.

And then I spend the morning reading Agents’ and industry blogs and think it might be more fun to die in a fire than finish this thing and have to do something with it anyway.