I’d rather be writing…

Work is done for the day. The kids are at their dad’s. The house is quiet. The perfect time to write. Instead, I’m stuck in editing hell. Wait, isn’t that the same thing as writing? It’s attached to writing sure, but it’s the ugly underbelly of the beast.

For me, writing comes in stages. The first stage is the best. When I put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and just GO. This is the Magical time of writing (as one of my guest teachers at UMO, the great, Monica Wood, shared with us.) During the Magic phase, NOTHING I write is bad. It’s all gold. Every word is birthed from my imagination and as beautiful as a newborn baby.

It’s only when I hold that baby up close, that you start to see some of the kinks in the armour, shall we say? During the second round of edits, I quickly discover that all that gold I wrote is not, in fact, without flaw, and I begin to question if this story can even be salvaged or not. I mean, sure, I typed 55 thousand words, but if 45,000 are shit, is it worth trying to save? Sometimes yes, sometimes not. It’s a painful edit to do because there is just soooooooooooooooo much to clean up. This draft takes the longest for me but it does still have room for more magic to happen. Once I start to clean up the mess my word vomit made, I can see spots where I can add a new scene, or rewrite something a different way. Both sides of my brain are (or attempting to) work in tandem.

The third draft is where I’m at now. The story is probably about 75-80% the way it will be in the final draft. By this round, most of the plot holes have been discovered and either fixed or removed or will be soon. This draft, admittedly, takes less time then the dreaded second draft, but is no less fun.

Draft four is where I start to get bored with my book. I’ve read over the same passages and nothing feels fresh anymore. It all feels stagnate. I start to second guess myself and my skill as a writer. I call this the self-loathing phase, so naturally, after this edit, I send it out to my beta readers. Glutton for punishment.

The fifth draft edits are the ones given to me by my beta readers. This can take a few weeks depending on how many I’ve solicited.  Then, when I’m feeling good about the book, I send it off to the editor thinking, secretly, that she’s not going to find much at all to fix in this book. She’s gonna be so impressed with my awesome writing skills!

I’m wrong. So wrong, every single time. Edits for days! It’s at this point, I really start to hate my book. I’ve read it so many times, and checked and checked for errors and fixed so many things, I’m just DONE with it!

That’s when I know it’s ready to publish. When I hate it. haha.  Publishing begins the whole marketing phase of a book (my lease favorite part), but it gets me closer to the Magic phase again when I can start a new book.

So you see, the actual WRITING phase of writing is just a sliver of what makes up the vast amount of time that goes into my books. The time spent editing it is the real time suck.

If only I could learn to get it to come out right the first time, then I’d be onto something!

Danielle Bannister Author and sometimes editing hell liver.

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