I spent eight months writing my last novel. Being part magical realism and part everything else, I developed my alternate contemporary world, did cultural research, did historical research, did climate research— hell, I even started doing Japanese language courses for research!
Then, eight months later, I now sit with my product in hand, feeling satisfied with what I’ve made…
Until the editing begins— holy clusterfuck of all that is green on God’s round earth!
Thus begins Edit Numero Uno.
And, mind you, I’m the type that also edit while I write, so at this point, the novel had technically been through profound editing – or so I thought.
Edit Numero Uno takes a couple of weeks with a focus on editing the flow – fair enough.
Edit Numero Dos involves printing the entire thing and editing in hand, focusing on the grammar – also fair enough.
Edit Numero Tres… was not supposed to happen. When I print my novels to edit them in hand, I consider that the last edit simply because it involves grammatical editing – the tiny bits, you know?
And yet, here I am, doing Edit Numero Tres, back to editing the flow, and it makes me wonder about the double-edged sword that is editing. It’s a lot like putting on makeup; you slap on a perfectly subtle layer of makeup, but then, there is that bit of eyeliner that is a little crooked, and what if you just pulled it further out, like that, and added some depth, and- oh fuck, no, no, raccoon eyes alert, abort mission! Likewise, imagine that you’re cooking a sauce, and wow, this is delicious, but it just needs a pinch of salt, and maybe a bit of rosemary, and yes, that’s— oh no, too much, no, no, I take it back, please!
…. You catch my drift here?
Just when you think you’re done editing, you realize that you’re not. Simultaneously, as you realize this, you also realize that you have a new problem to handle; one edit is fine, a second is also fine— but at the third, you begin to grow worried. You begin to wonder when enough is enough.
Am I polishing my work to its finest shine, or am I rubbing a hole in the silver?
I don’t believe that there is an answer to this (and if there is, then surely the answer is a much individual one), and so that’s not what I want to achieve with this post/rant. What I want to achieve, apparently, is to highlight the masochism that’s forever inherent in editing and writing by comparing it to beauty products and whisky sauce (rosemary works wonders for whisky sauce, didja know?)
Now, please, be gone and allow me to sit and bleed out my brain on my computer’s keyboard, and let’s perhaps add a little splatter on the screen for good measure, no?