Editing – Then and Now

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal

My goal is to strip things down so that you need just
the right amount of words or shape to convey what you need to convey. I
like editing. I like it very tight.

~ Maya Lin

That’s what I’m doing now with my current work in progress – editing. If, as a writer, I work hard enough then the reading is going to be much easier for the reader. That’s my purpose. I want the reading to be so easy that the reader forgets he or she is reading and is simply caught up in the story and riding along an imagination train watching the story unfold before his or her eyes. 

I don’t mind editing. Well, maybe I’d better qualify that. I don’t mind editing if it’s my idea. Sometimes I’m not as happy about the editing when it’s somebody else saying this or that should be done differently or better. Not that they aren’t right, but I think it’s harder for me to get into their mindset. So it’s harder for me to make the changes they suggest. But now I’m in the first part of editing. My part, where I read the story over and change every word that clangs in my reading ear. Sometimes I change it by deleting. That’s the easiest way. Sometimes. Sometimes not easy because I will have reworked the passage a dozen times when I finally realize I don’t need it at all. But just think of all that practice I got switching words around. 

The picture above is the way I used to edit prior to writing on a word processor. Yes, I know some of you can’t imagine that long ago, but some of us can. I was slow to the technical age anyway because those word processors used to be really expensive when they first showed up on the scene. Back then I typed all my first drafts and then rewrote them by slashing and marking out and adding in. You can see I even have some written in the margin. Then there were arrows and lines. I was never a cut and paster the way some writers were, but I did a lot of scribbling between lines and x-ing out unnecessary words.

Now I do everything on the computer. Words deleted fly off into the never-to-be-recovered land. New words are inserted with ease. Want to change a character’s name. No problem. You don’t have to read through and mark out the old name, add the new one, and worry you forgot to change it somewhere in the writing. You can hit the find and replace and change a hundred Harry Browns into Perry Jones in five seconds. 

But however it is done, editing needs to be done. So now I’m taking my first chance to improve and tighten the story. Plus I need to cut some words. I always write too long. But the good thing is that I will get those other chances to edit with the fresh insights of editors who aren’t as attached to the words of the story as I am. New eyes see new ways to tell the story better. So tonight and next week, I’m trying to make my eyes new so I can work hard to make your reading easy.

Nothing much has been easy around here lately though with Mom not doing well at the nursing home. She hadn’t slept for 36 hours before tonight, but she was finally asleep when I left. However, I’m expecting a call any minute saying I need to come back, that she’s awake and trying to get out of her bed or chair. The dementia keeps her in a panic, especially at night. Typical, they say, of dementia patients. So I’m hoping she’ll have a good week so that I can have a good week editing and make my deadline.

Thanks so much for reading. I appreciate each and every one of you. And I am going to have that giveaway for The Gifted very soon. I’ve found some Shaker gifts, so stay tuned.