“Didn’t you finish the first draft like months ago? What’s taking so long?”
Well, that’s an easy one: it’s that old bastard guy named time. Yes, to say that time takes time is pretty stupid, I know. I also don’t care. When it comes to editing, time is most definitely on my side.
I finished the first draft of this story well over 6 months ago, and I couldn’t be happier. My patience has paid off. I’m reading it with a more critical eye, catching things that I most likely would have missed if I’d immediately jumped back into things after I typed fin so many months ago.
I have a personal rule that everything gets edited at least 5 times before being sent out “for real”. Sure it goes to beta readers (at least those who are willing to succumb to my latest dose of insanity) but no respected editor will look at it until at least five edits. Not even a not-so respected editor will see it, but that’s besides the point.
For shorts, this is not such a big deal. I’m happy to write, edit, edit, beta edit, then edit once more for good measure because I know there will be many more “unofficial” edits as time goes on (like when it gets rejected a few times…that’s a good sign that it needs to be looked at again). I still give time between edits, but the whole process may be as short as a few weeks.
With longer works, well…let’s just say I’m glad I have enough red pens.
I’ve found that the longer time goes on, the less and less i like my first draft. As backwards as it may sound, I’m happy about this. First drafts suck, no question about it. They suck like a hoover.
I’m sure there are people in the world who write first draft masterpieces. I don’t know any, and I think anyone who makes such a claim not only has rose-smelling farts but is a big fat liar.
For most of us, I think our first drafts are only good for making fun of. That, and editing like crazy until they become a story worthy of sharing with the world. Let’s face it, we’re asking people to pay to read our work. It’d better not suck, and if it did they deserve their money back. The world doesn’t work that way, so for the sake of every reader on the planet that may pick up our latest masterpiece it needs to be good.
Back to point, I’m editing a novella that I finished in March, and since it’s been so long I feel almost like I’m editing someone else’s work. I don’t even feel bad laughing out loud at the really stupid parts.
At this point you may be wondering why on earth I’m sharing this with you, oh happy reader of the Internet. After all, it seems like I’m just spending this week’s blog to make fun of myself. Well, I kinda am.
Still, there’s a bright spot in all of this. There are times, even in the first draft, that I find my editing cap falling slightly to the side. There are times when I unconsciously let the red pen drop and I lean forward as my eyes fly across the page, soaking in the scene for all it’s worth. My heart beats a little faster as my respiration increases, and before you know it I’ve stopped editing and moved to a more elevated place…that place we call reading.
Sometimes when this happens, I stop and realize that the hairs are standing up on the back of my neck and I’ve ignored the world for such a stretch of time that my tea’s gone cold. It’s times like these that let me know I really am doing what I should be doing. It’s times like these that make it all worth while.
I’ll laugh at every other page for just one chance to feel like that. Why? Because when it happens, there’s just nothing better…