Editing is difficult.
And I mean stupid difficult.
I’ve heard it said numerous times throughout my degree that the short story is the most difficult to write because every single word must have meaning, but at least when the revision phase occurs, there are only 500-2000 words to comb through. The errors are easy to find–even if you find that editing your own words is a challenge, it is a relatively small one (says the girl whose published story has the wrong “their” in it).
Editing 85,000 words doesn’t grant the same ease especially because like the short story, I want all 85,000 of those words to have the precise meaning I want. And that is SO much work!
I’ve essentially spent the last few months wrestling with this task. For a while, my goal was to edit it from beginning to end, looking for problems in: story, plot, character, sentence structure, grammar, and believability. However, the problem I found with this strategy is that rarely have I ever had enough time to go through 350 pages with a fine tooth comb in one sitting. Unfortunately, I still have to work. So I will surrender the project, and when I pick it back up again, I will begin at the beginning again until I run out of time again. Repeat x 50.
What did I accomplish by this strategy? I have now read the first five chapters so many times that I now hate them.
Obviously, this strategy isn’t effective, so I am now working as far away from those first five chapters as I can and editing from the conclusion, working my way backwards. I have yet to discover if this tactic will be as unsuccessful as the first. I will keep you updated on my progress.
In the meantime, to spur on my editing attempts, I’ve purchased the Writer’s Digest 2016 book of writer’s agents. I have promised myself that no matter what, I will send out query letters sometime this year. The author of Bird by Bird says that new authors almost always send out their manuscript before it’s ready, and I am honestly getting so frustrated with the task of editing that I can see the truth in her words.