Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Is Editing Really A Sick Form of Slow Suicide?

I have to admit it.  There are several things I loathe in life. Beets, yellow mustard, folding clothes and editing.  Oh, there are other things on the list, but I am the most passionate about these four.  And the number one hate on the list is editing.

In the beginning I sounded exactly like a new writer does.  Like, how dare anyone question the utter brilliance of my words?  And of course because they edit me, obviously they can't write, like in the old adage, if you can't write, teach.  Or in their case, edit.

But I learned how wrong I was. Notice I didn't say I learned quickly. No campers, this was a lesson that would stick, so it would have to be painful.  Those are the only lessons that affect you; the ones with pain attached.  And in this case, the pain was learning I was NOT the most remarkable writer my editor had ever encountered.  The editing process was not going to be the walk-in-the-park I had envisioned.  In fact, it was nothing like that.  It hurt.  It was a soul-sucking, self-examining process and I crawled through it as though I were scuttling over broken glass on my knees.

Okay, maybe that is a bit extreme, but I think you get the picture.  The editing process doesn't just make your book/story/novel/etc. better; it makes you better.  And therefore it improves everything else you write.  I have written eight books and on each one I employ the same editing "suggestions" given to me on my first book.  And my second, and third, and so on.

As I write now, I notice that the editing "suggestions" I was taught (and I had some amazing editors!), are now things I use almost without thinking.  And I don't even use italics with them anymore.  And even better, I use them when I make "suggestions" (ahem) to my indie author friends who ask my advice about the publishing world.  Imagine that.  Hmmm.

So, I hope your take-away from this little lesson is to trust your editor.  This is not to say that they are somehow superhuman, or worse, less-than-human.  They are.  Humans, I mean.  So as long as you remember to treat each other as humans, your working relationship will be symbiotic and a pleasure for all.

And that's important, because guess what?  As humans, editors talk to other editors and the last thing you need on your impossibly gut-wrenching journey to greatness is to piss an editor off.  You don't want to be known as THAT WRITER.  At least not for piss-poor critique accepting.  You want to be remembered for being THAT WRITER of the amazing novels.  And so will your editor.  Good luck.


  1. Aw, I may have put a few hot coals in your path and made you take off your hi-tops, but I let you keep on your big girl pants, didn't I? You left out one thing - these days, many editors are also authors themselves, so they know the biz from both ends as well as in the middle.

  2. I love this! I feel like you dug this out of my very own heart - but I don't hate folding clothes. I think it's soothing

  3. Well put, Samantha! I admit I still cringe when I open up the edits and see all the "red" and wonder what's left of the story I wrote, but the truth is, the changes and suggestions almost always make the story better. We just need to trust that they know what they're doing. And fortunately the editors we have are well deserving of that trust.

  4. I agree 100% with incorporating your editor's "suggestions"! But, I have to admit, I don't hate editing, actually I really enjoy it. I guess it's that point when your book has finally gone from concept to reality and editing is your time to take it to the next level. I teach a Four Pass Editing Process that has worked wonders for me and my students. You might hate the editing, but you'll love the final product!