Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Editing avoidance

Oh, how I hate editing. As I always say, you have to get the clay on the table before you can make it into something recognizable but then there's that part of it--the moulding of the clay, the finishing of the product. I like getting the clay on the table. I like not having to worry how to spell something or if that cursed comma should stay or go (I have lots of books on grammar and punctuation and have studied them all but the comma still escapes me). I like not having to know what year they stopped making the original VW Rabbit or in what year the first minivan rolled off the line. I like being able to write without dealing with the details, with the knowing this part can wait until later. But then later comes.

You work on creating something for months, maybe even years, then there it is. Complete. Now, you must take a few moments to admire it (actually, you should take at least a couple of weeks, preferably longer, to distance yourself from it before you begin editing), then you must look harshly at it. You must tear it to shreds and be ruthless. The timeline is not right and that character who shows up in the bar all the time, you know, the one you love? He has to go. Cut him out. He is gone. Yes, he has great lines and yes he is funny but you must excise him from the book. But maybe if I changed him so... a meek voice inside you says and the mean editor in you says no, he has to go. No maybes. He must go. And that whole storyline about the broken leg, that is not working so that has to go too. And the comma there, get rid of it. No, wait, I think it should go back. No, it has to go. It definitely has to go. And there are dangling things throughout your whole manuscript and the character's name makes her sound prissy and unsympathetic. And you just used "has to go" five times in this one paragraph. See, how awful and painful it is?

I dislike editing so much that I would do almost anything to avoid it. If I know you and love you and you need an extra organ I could possibly provide, now is the time to ask. I have even been known to do *gasp* housework in order not to ponder the fate of a semicolon. Yes, it is true. I will vacuum, scrub the bathroom, dust, even take out the garbage if I could stay away from having to face up to the fact that no one can go from Toronto to Newfoundland to New York and back to Toronto and do all the things I gave the poor man to do in one day, unless he has the ability to slow down time or a private space shuttle. That has to be changed and it is a rather large change.

But the good news (or the bad news if you are my husband and like the occasional clean looking house) is that I now have something else to help keep me from editing. I have a blog. That means commas can stay in flux and the man with the impossible time crunch will have to repeat his traumatic day until I can finish this post. Oh, and I think I'll make stew today too. It's a good stew day. Oh, and I noticed some dust bunnies under the bed and I need to find the gift wrap I had left over from last year and the faucet in the bathroom needs a new washer and...



At 2:02 PM, Blogger Rj said...

Blogging, there are so mny reasond to do it.


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