The Editing Process

He came at her with a scythe. It gleamed with it’s deadly precision edge. It had been finely honed with years of loving care. Her pulse began to pound as she saw the edge descend. It seemed aimed straight at her heart. Faster. Faster! She wanted to run, but she couldn’t make her feet move. Then the blade hit. It sliced through skin, through muscle, through bone. It tore her flimsy costume away. Her heart fluttered as she felt it gripping her soul. And the bleeding went on and on.

Somewhere around dawn, she became aware that the bleeding had tapered off. The slicing had stopped. The wounds were healing. She stood up.

The morning illuminated a new form. Tight shoulders, firm hands, an impressively trimmed suit. Her breath was deep. No hacking or wheezing. Even the wind seemed to sigh in appreciation of her transformation.

It was a good day to be a book.

 

--

This is the process of editing. You finish up writing the book and your pride makes you think that this bunch of loose papers shoved into a third rate pee-chee folder should make people tremble in gratitude for the opportunity to merely glance at your scrawl. Then you have to give it to the editor. You realize your pride is not enough to make this angly, bloated, pile of junk shine like gold. Your hands tremble as you hand it over.

The editor takes the moldy sheaf with a slight look of disgust, but there is a small gleam in their eye. It could be hope.

“Somewhere in there are a few words worth saving, aren’t there?” You ask.

The editor retreats to their lair and somewhere in the stormy night laced with lightning you hear them cackling. Then come the sounds of slicing, spurting verbs, withering punctuation.

“Live! Damn you, live!” The editor screams. Thunder punctuates his emphasis.

And in the morning, your editor leads you inside. There upon the table where you thought you’d see nothing but a scattering of dissonant consonants, you see a perfect little font bound in a sheath that would make Plato jealous. The editor takes your hand and a tear gleams in the corner of their eye.

“Congratulations. It’s a novel.” The editor says.

 

Realistically, editing is nothing but a human removing and adding characters to make people understand what you really want to say. Emotionally, it feels like an ongoing drama. You write, you turn it over, you fix it, you turn it over again. They fix it, you read it, someone else fixes it more, you read it again. In there you all spend moments laughing and crying. You are convinced that you are the best author that ever lived, and the worst scum on the planet. Unfortunately you believe both of these things at the same moment.

 

I am to this point. With copy editing just a short jog away from being completed. I want to cradle my novel in my arms. Obviously I cannot spell and I know crap a doodle day about punctuation. All I have is hope. I have to force myself to NOT watch over the editor’s shoulder asking “Is it going to make it?” every few seconds. I can only hope it becomes publishable, and that no one will take one look and walk away...laughing.


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