Editing & Rewards

I’ve learned more about myself, again. I’m happy to report this. I think it’s important to recognize that we’re always changing. That means that we always have some mystery about who we are that we need to confront and resolve. (At least I do, but I suppose others like to leave some mystery to themselves.) Some changes are as slow to witness as a snail’s progress across a patio. Other changes can be seen like a meteor’s flash in the August night.

One thing that I’ve learned is why I like editing, a lesson learned and forgotten. Writing like crazy in my finest efforts is primal, immersive, and intense. It’s also rewarding. Reward is associated with solving problems that are created as part of exploring the plot and understanding the characters. Reward also comes from the tangible progress of putting words onto pages until hundreds of pages are done and a novel is completed. That’s very tangible and satisfying.

Editing, though, lacks that sense of progress and reward of writing like crazy. I miss both of those things. But I’ve found that the editing process grounds me. As it’s more relaxing than writing because it’s less intensive, it has a gentler and more reflective quality in it.

Writing like crazy is also exhausting. That might seem strange to people who don’t know how much thinking is involved in writing. Editing, being less exhausting, leaves me with more free energy. Weirdly, I don’t know how to use that energy. I end up reading more. Conversely, reading more triggers the write-like-crazy impulse in me. But I’m editing, so I need to shun that. It’s a frustrating dynamic.

There is a sense of progress inherent in editing. It’s measured in the number of pages and chapters read, the number of notes made to check on this, and the number of those items that become resolved and checked off. But creative writing is problem-solving; editing isn’t, to me, so different areas of my brain are engaged. When I’m editing, I’m mostly reading. Remembering, I’m reading and editing my own work. I’m familiar with it. That’s exactly why others need to edit it for me when I’m satisfied that the draft is sufficiently complete to hand it off to someone to edit.

Done editing for the day. Not a great deal was accomplished in the sense that I didn’t cover many pages. (Ten, actually, when I go back to see how many I read.) That was because I discovered a name was spelled incorrectly. I was surprised to find that I’d spelled it wrong in the manuscript and in my bible of information. Global find and replace was needed, but to reach that point required research and decisions about which spelling to use.

That’s editing though, finding and correcting the mistakes, along with revising the story to improve flow and clarify.

At least in my mind.

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