I’ve seen the memes. And the quotes. And the discussions on social media about the pains of editing. At some point over the last six months, you would think the light bulb would have turned on before now. But, no. Not really.
Not long after launching my author page, I was asked by someone if I had found it difficult transitioning from writing news to creative writing.
I said no.
But those things I thought were the problem, I am finding may not be the problem. I am finding, my issue isn’t with writing. My issue is with editing. Or rather, the lack thereof. You see, for most of my writing career, I had limited time to rewrite an article or focus on editing. Generally, what went on the site was my first draft. My second if I was lucky. I may have completed a few read-throughs to check for grammatical errors, double check quotes and check the spelling of names, but that was it. I did not have the luxury to spend days on an article to make it pretty. But, to be honest, that wasn’t really my job. My job was to get the information out to the public as swiftly and as accurately as possible. My job was to get it right, not make it pretty.
The upside…I learned to quickly analyze the information I heard and pick out the real story behind all the noise. I could sit in a three-hour meeting or through an interview, and within minutes of walking out the door I knew what I was leading with and I knew how I would present the information.
The downside….I don’t know how to edit. Not really. Not the months and months, page-by-page, sentence-by-sentence editing I’ve seen discussed so often. That whole concept is foreign to me and frankly, overwhelming. My mind is accustomed to, once the article’s written, letting it go. And that works for news writing. The audience, honestly, isn’t expecting a lot of filler or description. I can’t even imagine a time where I would have described everyone in a meeting, what they wore, their expressions. I wouldn’t want to, honestly.
But that is not the case with novels. And it isn’t like I didn’t notice those things as a news reporter. I just didn’t write about them. When I jumped into this approximately six months ago, I was gung-ho and ended up pounding an extensive first draft of the follow-up novel to Finding Evelyn. Then I read it. And I realized, I had a 40,000-word news article. So what did I do? I trashed it. Yep. Deleted it. Why? Because it sucked for a novel. And, my brain still expected me to write it correctly the first time.
Luckily for me, a very painful experience in college involving a 10-page term paper and no auto-save has made me a little ridiculous when it comes to backing things up that I’ve put a lot of time into. Now, it’s not organized by any means. It may take me months to find something on the ridiculous number of flash drives I own. It’s so bad, I even have an external hard drive.
I am a document and picture hoarder.
So, even though I deleted it, I was thankfully able to find a backed-up copy hidden away. I’m not sure yet if it’s the whole back up or just partial, but it is enough that I don’t feel like I am starting over from scratch. Because, it dawned on me not long ago, when I tried several times to write a new draft and kept getting pulled back to the original story, that I had already written the story.
I just needed to edit it.
Ding. Light bulb.
So, I’m still on this journey. Still, don’t know when I will have a book finished to publish. But, I’m still here. Still learning. Still writing. Still reading. And that’s good enough for now.
And on to learning to edit.