Editing: The thing that drives writers to drink

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

So … the first draft of Fury is done and dusted. I’ve gone over it with a fine tooth comb and killed a few of my own darlings in the process, which is pretty difficult in and of itself, but then I have to send it off to someone whose job it is to rip it to shreds and make me cry like a little baby. That’s what editing is all about. It’s dragging yourself and your book through the gauntlet kicking and screaming so that at the end of the process you have the best possible book. But that doesn’t make it any less painful.

I sent Fury off to my editor on Friday. Which means I still have a bit of time ahead of me to pace the length of my apartment while I agonise over what she thinks about every turn of phrase. Is she going to hate every word I wrote? How much red ink is there going to be? How much of a rewrite am I looking at? How long do I have to wait before I start badgering her about what she thinks? Even though I know she’s barely had time to get through the first few chapters. Plus she has other books she’s editing. Mine is not the only book on her heap.

And so I continue to pace and chew my nails. And while I pace and chew my nails, that wine bottle starts looking mighty tasty. It’s just the first round of edits, there’ll be another one with the same level of anxiety, and then it goes to the copy editor to double check everything.

I check my email every few minutes to see if she’s sent it back yet or if there are any messages from her, even just a pat on the head to say good job. I might be wrong, but once we send the book baby out into the world, we just want someone to pat us on the head and say ‘Good job little writer.’ We’re sort of like puppies looking for some sort of validation.

The thing you have to understand is that I’ve spent over a year working on it. No one else has read it. My editor is the first person to see the finished story. It’s been written in isolation. So having anybody read it is enough to cause a bit of anxiety, but having a red pen poised over every page ready to kill every word is enough to send any writer into an anxiety induced drinking binge, or am I alone in that one?

So … here I sit and wait for the editors verdict while I chew my nails and down a glass of wine. Hopefully my hangover won’t be too bad when I get those edits back because there’s nothing worse than dealing with all that red with a pounding headache.

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