Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Joys of Editing. Not!

I love writing. Love love love it! It's my happy space. But let me be clear about something - to me, writing is the process of putting down a story, building worlds, creating and caring for characters both good and bad, and ensuring that the stream-of-consciousness writing of the first draft is not tampered with.
Then there is editing.
Editing is different from writing. Yes it is. The story is already there, the characters complete, the best ideas safely deposited in the first draft. The first draft is always a joy. The second draft is the beginning of the actual work phase for me. And it goes like this.
Second draft - read through to proof errors and make changes to plot threads left hanging, characters who need completing, check for doubling up and ensure the story energy reads consistently. Make sure the chapters are linked and there is plenty happening on each page. Check word count and page count aren't too little or too much for one novel. If it needs adding to or culling, this draft is where that is done.
Third draft - edit the story paragraph by paragraph, now paying attention to grammar, word placement, adjectives and adverbs, dialogue and narrative. Be picky. Be cold. Be critical. It hurts sometimes, but it has to be done.
Fourth draft - now read through sentence by sentence, ensuring they have correct spelling and grammar. Then do a computerised spellcheck and grammar check to see if it comes up with anything I missed.
Fifth draft - the book now goes to an external editor in hard copy (I hate editing electronically) with my briefing of what I want, which is usually "don't touch the story, just proof and note anything that doesn't add up or jars when you read it." When it comes back to me, I make any changes required and I'M DONE!
Next, I format it for Kindle and Createspace and Smashwords. The book covers are ready. And finally I publish the blighter, which by now I am usually glad to see the back of! 
And then I start the marketing and promotion. Which, incidentally, I find harder than all of the above. That's just plain hard work and I know that most Indie Authors feel the same, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I do it diligently, I do it reasonably well (past sales attest to that), and I have complete control over it. Which is the best part.
And I get to sleep again. 
Sleep. That precious, underrated gift that eludes so many writers during the whole process, but for me, especially during the editing process. Here's how it goes.
The typical sleeping pattern of a writer in the editing process: 9.30pm go to bed, asleep within half an hour; 1.30am wake up with ideas buzzing in my head about what needs to be added/deleted/changed in SARAH ANN ELLIOTT Book 1; 3.00am still staring at the ceiling because the brain won't shut down, but too tired to get up and write; 3.30am going crazy, so turn on Netflix and watch a couple of episodes of Grace and Frankie; 4.30am back to bed and sleep finally; 7.00am wake up exhausted. Back at my writing desk by 9.00am. Do as much as my tired self can do, then repeat the whole process again the next night. Sigh....