Editing a manuscript is like a spin class.
There’s something already there, my body’s not bad, but with a little effort it could be better. Tighter, leaner, more…defined.
When I edit I start at the beginning, I can’t just move in and out of chapters because I lose track of where I’m at and then my characters get pissed because I don’t remember the story. Sort of like showing up to a spin class for a few minutes and then leaving. Those people drive me nuts. If you start the class, you take a bike, then you better be in it for the long haul. Unless of course your Doctor Alice in my spin class and you have to leave 15 minutes early to save lives. She can do anything she wants.
Some chapters are easy, they’re the warm up. The words were pretty darn good right out of the box. Maybe there are some spelling errors, maybe I’ve used “smiled” or “beautiful” way too many times. They do tend to show up quite a bit in my work and then I go off on this tangent that my vocabulary isn’t diverse enough and I have no business writing and “beautiful” is a stupid word, when really it’s not. Beautiful is a great word, you just can’t use it for everything. It’s sort of like spinning to the same song over and over again. You need to shake it up, throw a little Pit Bull in there or even One Direction.
Then there are the hard chapters, the uphill climbs on full resistance. These chapters are the Eminem or Adele sweaty angst chapters. They are the ones that barely made it on the page in the first draft. They have a million notes and arrows. They’re the places I get lost, sweat starts dripping off my face and I’m certain I will never finish this book or have flat abs. The hard chapters, the long hauls, make the writer, the athlete. They keep me up at night, or leave me sore in the morning, but when I’ve moved through, fixed every note, spent hours on five sentences, they are the ones that count.
The hard chapters often turn out to be my favorite in the edited final draft. Like my spin class, I sit back after these pages, take a deep breath, wipe my face and realize that least for one song, that one chapter, I kicked it’s ass.
My thoughts from the laundry room. Dead Tired.