Last week, Hannah said some great things about editing and it got me thinking about my own process. While I commiserate about the tediousness of the line-edit, I actually love editing on a more general level. The first draft is my least favourite part (except for the seduction of the initial rush of pages. That part is swoony and awesome). Once I have something to work with, I love going back into it and tinkering, cutting, reworking and building up. Once I’ve got a world breathing on its own, I want to give it things to do, problems to overcome, and that, for me, is during the revision and editing process.
But sometimes things don’t go that smoothly. Sometimes I don’t realise until I’ve bushwacked through the thorny thicket of a first draft that it’s actually just a thorny thicket and not good writing at all. And I have to start again. It hurts like a hammer to the toe, except my toe is my entire body. At times like this I get very sad and eat unhealthy quantities of chocolate.
Luckily for me and my current story, I caught the thorny thicket before it could envelop the first draft I was writing (or before the draft could wander into the thicket, never to be seen again) and I only had to throw out forty-odd pages. It was only paper-cut pain, remedied with a few nights of Downton Abbey instead of the Black Hole of Chocolate.
And once I started again and realized how much better everything was going–voice, details, conflicts–I was not sad for the pages I deleted. I didn’t regret all the time I spent on them because their purpose was to get me to where I am now. They needed to die so the real story could live.
Funnily enough, so it goes with ugly kitchens.
So onward with writing and with renovating, and more on both soon. And if you have an ugly kitchen or editing story to share, please leave it in comments. We are partial to both!