March 10, 2016 in Dag

I’m such a good writer – until someone looks at my story

I’m in the middle of editing my current WIP. I’ve talked about it before. It’s kind of, sort of a YA/MG fantasy-ish thing. It’s sort of like other things I’ve written, but in many ways completely different. It nods to certain conventions of fantasy while hopefully sending them up. All in all, I just hope it’s going to turn out to be a fun story to read.

Going through the editing process is certainly a humbling experience. Possibly the most humbling experience that any author can go through. I’d even go as far as to say getting bad reviews for a published work is less humbling than the experience of editing.

It’s funny. While I’m writing my novel, I’m the greatest writer in the world. I’m constantly blowing my mind with the quality of the ideas I come up with. I’m totally amazing myself with the standard of my prose, and all the witty and inventive little expressions I’m able to insert at frequent intervals. It’s a wonderful feeling, knowing that as a writer I’m definitely up with the greats, producing work that will astound and amaze anyone lucky enough to pick it up.

And then…

It’s time to hand it over to the editor. Of course, I’m feeling pretty good about it. I know how superb my story is, so it will probably just come back with a few little typos.

I wait a few weeks. Surely, it can’t be taking that long. After all, it’s so close to perfect. The editor just needs to give it a quick skim and then hand it back.

Then, finally, I get the MS back. It’s a shock. So many edits. So much red. How could that be? My story was perfect. My writing was brilliant.

I take a closer look. Some of the suggestions for text to be removed are the bits I was most proud of. I bang my head on the desk. This is a disaster.

It can take me a while – maybe several days – before I recover my composure. As I read through the edits again, I start to see the sense. Yes, these changes are definitely improvements. Yes, my prose can at times run to the purple. Yes, there are times when what I’ve written is verging on the incomprehensible. How did I not notice that before? Why did I ever think my writing was so utterly beyond criticism?

And then, it’s time to get down to editing.

It’s funny how this always happens. How I’m such an amazing writer until someone else actually reads my story. Then, for a short time, I get brought back to earth. But as I work through the changes and fine tune the manuscript, I start to realise that, even though it was far from perfect, it was still not that bad. And these edits are making it even more not that bad.

Finally, the editing will be done, and I’ll have a story I really can be proud of. Then I’ll start something new, and go through the whole process again.

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