The struggles of editing
So, I’ve been writing the Sandy Walker Series ever since 2019. I started the novels when I was going through a tough spot in my life and decided they would be good to share since there aren’t too many books on the shelves about black families. Urban Fiction, today, is nothing more than washed up books about sex and drugs without literature so I aim to write the same themes using more figurative language.
The truth about editing novels is that it takes a lot of discipline and time. I never wake up in the morning saying to myself, “I want to edit, today.” The conversation is more or less like, “If I can just get through 2,500 words, or one chapter, I’ll make small progress,” because I know how hard editing my own novel is.
And, you may ask, “why not hire an editor?” I don’t like too many opinions on my work. I do have my own little team that has been loyal since I was a college student — they are great at reading and meeting deadlines, but that’s as far as it gets for proofreads and copyedits.
The struggle of editing is that most of the work I’m rewriting has already been written. This weekend, I learned that editing is more or less about psyching myself out rather than productivity. The lazier I can feel when I edit the better the words are.
I have to have a timer that says something like, “you have 47 days left,” and somehow it becomes more than enough time which leaves me editing 4,500 words. Moreover, to really edit I have to have a clean house and damn near ready to sleep. Edits are so mentally taxing that I have to be in the best mood and really relaxed.
Also, the struggle with editing is realizing that even if the novel is already written at 38,000 words it’s okay to rewrite the entire novel and it’s at a stagnant 19,000. I use to beat myself up and race myself — this weekend taught me that slow and steady edits are the key, at least I’m not at 12,000 anymore.
All in all, my editing sessions are short. I never try to force myself to do 5,000 words to start. If I look at the word counter and it states ‘411’ I pat myself on the back for having rewritten that much in twenty minutes. And, trust me, by the time you dig through the original paragraphs to figure out what matters and what doesn’t thirty more minutes passes you by.
The true nature of editing isn’t even just about rewriting your novel or copyediting lines. The true nature of editing novels has a lot to deal with falling in love with your work all over again.
For Sandy, my current work in progress, I’ve fallen in love more with her senior year of high school experience rather than the actual issues of her family. I find that writing a relatable African American female role who struggles with high school pressures is so much more enamoring than the overall theme of the book.
And, by getting to that essence of editing and revising you find that your copy stands off the shelf just for its minor polishes, alone. I had no clue Sandy was going to be this amazing, but I keep developing her character and her dilemmas to show she has a lot of faults like any other human.
As I keep revising and getting further into the book, despite the struggle of feeling like the book is over, I come to seriously appreciate my own journey as a woman and begin to feel grateful for having even thought of such a remarkable work.
Hopefully, I can place Sandy on the shelf beside Class of 2045 this Christmas.