I am in the throes of editing my first novel. I’ve never done this before. I’ve written a first draft…numerous times. But I have never gone back through and cleaned it up to make it spit-shined, polished, and ready for the world.
My thoughts on the process? Editing sucks.
I finished my draft, read through the whole thing from beginning to end, and focused on the high-level changes that thought I needed to make. And about ¼ of the way into my first chapter, I was so overwhelmed by my perceived flaws that I didn’t think they were surmountable. I was ready to toss the whole story and start over. At a minimum, I wanted to play the avoidance game, doing such things as scrubbing tile grout or watching repeat episodes of The Queen while eating lots of chocolate.
It was bad.
But I slogged my way through that first chapter. And the second. And the third, fourth, etc. until I got to the 8th chapter, and then suddenly, everything seemed easier. I was even able to look back at the changes I’d made to the first few chapters and see my (new) flaws there, as well. Not only that, I have extrapolated those flaws into what I have to do to the rest of the book (again, at a very high level) to improve it.
I’m not sure what happened…whether I had some sort of clarifying dream moment or something, but all I know is that editing doesn’t suck anymore.
Has this been your experience? Tell me, fellow writers, what happened when you edited your first novel? How is it different when you’re editing your fifth? Or fiftieth? Does it get better all the time? Or do you still have moments of “oh Lordy there’s no fixing this?”