Thursday, July 22, 2010

Extensive Editing

I'm alone in the house for a good portion of the day today, because the grandparents have taken Left, Right and Center so I can edit my butt off. I should pause to note that my kids aren't really named Left, Right, and Center, but their initials are L, R, and C, and you'll never guess how they usually end up in photos. This is handy because Left and Right are identical twins. When we took them home from the hospital, we had to paint their toenails until we learned which one was which. I should also note that I'm not literally editing my butt off. I've edited a lot of words from this book, so much so that I honestly think only five have survived from the original draft, and all of them are "the." But I plan to keep my butt where it is, just in case you were wondering.

Anyway, I have something to declare today--I am an extensive editor, and I'm proud of it. Yes, there are many authors out there who manage to turn out pristine first drafts in which more than five words end up in the finished product. They exist. I happen to know a few of them, and I'll admit to occasional bouts of insane jealousy. BUT.

I'm still proud to edit the bleep out of my mannies.

Part of this is because I know some fabulously talented Extensive Editors. (And you know who you are.) And I admire their dedication to their craft, and their determination to GET THAT BLINKING SENTENCE RIGHT IF IT KILLS THEM, and their desire to learn as much as possible about the art of writing. And then I think, "Um, Sparkly Merpire Princess?" Because that's what I call myself in my head. "Maybe you should give yourself a little credit too? Because you're doing the same thing they're doing."

I have to concede the point. Why does it matter how many drafts it takes you to get a great book? It takes as many as it takes. If you're an extensive editor, give yourself some credit for dedication to YOUR process. It works for you. Be proud of it. The Sparkly Merpire Princess told you to.

Disclaimer: I love you pristine first drafters too. I just gnash my teeth in envy while sending you hugs and sparkles.

11 comments:

storyqueen said...

I wish I could edit my own butt off....

(a butt that spends as much time in a chair as mine does could use a little editing...)

Shelley

Jeff Hirsch said...

I'm an extensive editor too. You're right, whether your book works on the 1st draft or the 50th, a good book is a good book!

beth said...

Can you tell us about your editing process?--I just finished my manuscript and I'm trying to get some tactics together! Thanks.

beth-project52.blogspot.com

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

I wish I was a pristine first drafter too. Editing used to scare the pants off me, now I like it. I love the fact that I can make my words better.
Even if it requires a lot of chocolate to bribe myself to do it. :)

Trini said...

Sparkly Merpire Princess! That is so funny. lol. I LIKE IT!!It fits you ;)
I tip my hat to you authors. It take a lot of moxie to put your feelings and thought on to paper then share it with the world. But I'm sure glad you do it. I love having a book in my hands and taking a trip into someone elses world. When all the noise of the world quiets down and you start to see the characters in you head playing their parts and you take on their emotions, it's one of the best things in the world. Thanks authors you rock!!

Carrie keep up the good work and don't be to hard on yourself.

Quotes for inspiration..
"I hold that a writer who does not passionately believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature."--John Steinbeck
"~ True strength lies in submission which permits one to dedicate his life, through devotion, to something beyond himself. ~ "--Henry Miller

a little humor...

"The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning, and does not stop until you get into the office." - Robert Frost

and now, a quote from the almighty YOGI BERRA.
"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."

Well I hope that brightens your day a little.

Trini

Rachel Star said...

If your blog writing is anything to go by (Sparkly Merpire Princess?!) then your book must be fantastic and I can't wait to read it :)

Trini said...

Oh and by the way. I want to join the (Semi) Secret Order of the Blog Nija. Is this only for other authors? What do I have to do? Is there hazing involved? lol

Trini

Cate Gardner said...

First drafters are a myth, right? Right?

SWK said...

Seems like every time I go back through a ms I see something I could make better. Argh! But, still, I'd rather keep working than leave something less than perfectly polished. Your post made me feel less lonely about my compulsion. Thanks :) Stasia

Eternal Night said...

Hello Carrie Harris,

Thank you for commenting on my blog and I am pleased that you are glad that many people, including myself, are glad, excited, and just can't wait to read your book "Bad Taste in Boys". Have a nice day and happy reading.

~Kassandra
http://eternalnight06.blogspot.com/

Tara Maya said...

I used to have pristine first drafts.

Turns out I just didn't realize they needed editing.

Truly, ignorance was bliss.