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Sunday, 29 May 2011

Ed, the Editing Monster

I babble. I falter. I digress.

I’m sure lots of other people can say the same, and it’s no different for writers. The only saving grace we have is editing. That’s why, for example, I am much better at writing than talking. Because I edit out all of those little peevish things I do in everyday speech.

Truth is, I can’t tell a joke right because I can never remember the punch-line, or I start telling the joke, which reminds me of something else, and I forget it was a joke in the first place. Alternatively, I would not stress the right part at all, which would make people laugh at my measly efforts. Sigh.

I can’t even make a single argument properly because I digress too much and too often. I also use those horrid little pick-me-ups-and-leave-me-downs like ‘I mean’, ‘right’, ‘yeah’, etc. Fillers! I hate fillers. Must kill fillers.

But then it would sound too stupid to drag a huge Uuuuughhh, like some kind of a moron in the pauses between arguments. Then maybe I should not make pauses altogether, should I? Yes, life would be a better place without pauses and silences that we desperately need to fill all the time.

See? I did it again.

So what I mean to say is: editing is what counts in writing. When I was just starting to write, I used to torture myself over being unable to write something good in one sitting. I thought writers just got it ‘almost right’ the first time, so they only tweaked a little here and there to polish and get it ready for publication. Now I’ve accepted that I’d be lucky to get it right the second time around.

So when a writer writes about writing (points to blog title and grins), what she is really writing about is editing. It’s the craft part of any skill. There’s talent, there’s style, and there’s craft. Surely, a writer cannot be great without craft.

Sure, certain parts of writing are pure and untouched by the inky fingers of the editing monster, called Ed for short. And those parts are always romanticized among writers. While they are seen as ‘divine intervention’, ‘muse’, and ‘god-given talent’, Ed is overlooked as the villain who will taint the magnificence of the written word instead of fixing it.

Boy, how wrong that is. And you know it. And I know that you know it. It’s like those romcoms on TV. Say it with me: love is NOT about rainbows and happy endings and men professing their love for women. In the best case scenario, they’ll grunt their thanks if we are so kind as to fetch them beer.

So Edless inspiration is like those idealized moments on screen. It’s life as we want it, but it’s definitely not life as we know it (which is also a romcom title). And that’s fine. However, I personally don’t mind putting in the hard work into my writing. In fact, it’s what makes me better, and also what makes me feel useful somehow. Worthy almost.

And while pure inspiration is what brings Ed to life, Ed cannot exist without inspiration, just like inspiration cannot survive without Ed.

In other words, neither can die while the other survives. 


(courtesy of

So this is what Ed looks like to a writer at first. Hopefully, this won't induce any nightmares. He's sweet once you get to know him, though. ;)


Ava Jae said...

Nice post!

I completely agree. Writing is nothing without editing, even if it's only a little editing.

I don't consider anything complete until I've edited it to death. And even then, if I haven't had other eyes look at it, it doesn't feel finished to me. I think my main problem (and I'm sure other writers struggle with this) is deciding when enough is enough.

How do we know we've edited enough? It's a hard call.

Anyway. I love writing, I love the discovery of it and falling in love with my characters.

But I also love editing. I love looking over my manuscript, knowing that it's completely written. I love adding new nuances to fully pull the threads together.

And most of all I love reading what I've written and falling in love with it all over again. After the red marker has murdered it a few times, of course. ;)

Lyn Midnight said...

You make an excellent point, actually. I am definitely guilty of OVERediting as well, so I guess anything we do can go to either extreme. It's so hard to stay in the middle though, right?

Haha, omg yes. It's so nice to look at your words and wonder: Did I write this? Oh my God. I'm awesome! LOL. Well, you know it doesn't happen to me very often, but I have my rare proud moments. :P

Thanks for stopping by, Ava! <3

Jemma Davidson said...

Great post :) You are so right.

Thank god for editing! If I had a catch-phrase it would probably be "where was I going with that?" because whenever I try to tell a story/anecdote in conversation I go off on a tangent until I can't remember what my original point was! Writing is so much better because I can go back and see where I started :)

I love Ed. He's my friend. Muses however... well they're a bit fickle. Here one day, gone the next. But I'll always have Ed :) Even if he's a bit of a pain some times :D

BTW, I <3 your blog (I can't wait for more in your Time Travel series).

Lyn Midnight said...

Aww, thanks, Jemma. :)

Haha, good catch phrase btw. I think I suffer the same. :D Because when there are so many thoughts in your head, how can you really remember where you were going at the end, lol.

I love Ed too. :) I love my muses too though but you are so right about them being fickle. You should write a post yourself. :D

Lyn Midnight said...

Hmmm. The thing cut me off. Anyway, I was gonna say: Thanks you for commenting! Oh, and I've been a bit distracted lately, but the TT bits are almost ready anyway, so I'll post the next today. I am so glad someone's enjoying the series! <3