Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Life is like a batch of edits

Edits. Revisions. Torture. Call it what you will, but they hit every writer with a different, yet powerful emotion--terror, sorrow, anxiety... I know a number of authors in various stages of the revision process, and a big, key theme is stress. Stress to meet the deadline, stress to do the edits right, stress to change something in their beloved story. It's this last one I secretly love.

Have I mentioned I'm a glutton for punishment?

Writers are attached to their stories and characters for good reason. We've lived with them in our heads for weeks, months or years. When the book goes to print, the attachment has waned for some, and strengthened for others. And each of these books went through an arduous editing process. Cherished scenes hit the cutting room floor. Characters we adored had names changed. And *gasp* we may have even had to add more. More! To an already perfect (in our eyes) story!

Life is exactly the same way. We cut out the junk that doesn't work. Toxic people, horrible jobs, extra weight, and our jeans from 10 years ago. We might not go so far as to change our names, but we change our hairstyles, our weekly dinner meals and our cars to name a few. And we're always adding--to our social circle, closet, pantry, credit card debt...the list goes on.

So why do authors resist the editing process so much? We experience this constant revising each and every day. I can't answer for everyone, but my initial reaction is to take a deep breath and ignore that inner voice that screams at me to panic. I know my editors--lovely ladies, each and every one of them--are asking for changes that make the story better. They expect more from me, believing I can deliver it.

Life is no different!

When you're open to change, the process, while at times painful, can alter the end result in the most amazing ways. I can't promise you'll win a personality or beauty contest, but I can assure you of one thing--you'll have to revise again. And again. And again. And just when you think you'll duct tape the entire head of the next person who dares ask you about the editing process and...ahem...what I mean is, just when you think you're done, you'll realize you're not. You can always improve on some area of your life. The trick is to know when you've hit that point where you're proud to display your latest efforts for the entire world to see.

It's not about perfection. It's about knowing when to improve things, or when you're at the best you can be. Embrace the opportunities to revise the areas of your life that could use a little polish. You and I both know you can deliver that. And don't be afraid of the process. Editing can be fun, I promise.


Christine Rains said...

It's all about the journey. Even though edits can be grueling!

Jess said...

You are so right!

Christa Desir said...

I'm not going to lie to you on this. And really, I just figured it out. And it's true. You have to walk away from every project for three months. It will offer you the best opportunity to edit. I promise. And you will fly through it then.

Now go turn off your word verification on your blog.

Jess said...

Ha ha, word verification is off.

I agree, stepping away from edits is a great thing. It offers perspective and breathing space.