I promise that I’m not stressed out.
Edits didn’t go poorly.
But they didn’t go poorly because I had a breakthrough . . . that took extremely long to hit me.
“If you edit something for long enough, it stops getting better—it just starts getting different.”
I don’t remember who told me that. Someone from an internship I worked decades ago, I think.
But it is extremely true. It’s a principal I held close while writing this draft of Memory, determined to make it good while also making firm decisions about what the novel would be.
And somehow, in the interim between finishing Memory and now, I’d forgotten that principal.
And I didn’t realize it until I was agonizing over a worldbuilding conundrum in the first chapter—the road block it took forever to get past. It was a moment I’d just reworked the previous week and decided needed reworking again.
Until I got there, texted a friend, brainstormed, and realized . . .
“. . . What the fuck am I doing?”
The result of my brainstorming was a complicated answer that I realized would never make it into the novel. Or, rather, it could, but it felt like it wouldn’t improve the novel at all to include it—it would just make the one scene slightly different.
And immediately, like a person freshly released from mind control, I realized the thing I was agonizing over truly did not matter. It’s an answer I’m glad that I have, sure, but not one that would improve the MS, so . . . <shrug>.
It’s weird too, because in that moment I realized I’d forgotten a bunch of my internal writing tools that I use to make it past hurdles like this: things like ‘writing out scene possibilities and why I like them / dislike them so I can decide which to go with.’
And ‘pulling back and looking at the big picture of my setting to solve worldbuilding-logic problems.’ Being able to say, “Well, of course character A would be able to do specialized-action B. It seems like they wouldn’t, but they just learned it off screen when they lived in a culture where specialized-action B was common.” The kind of affirmation I used to have in droves while writing the first draft—moments where I’d just nod and say, “Ah, right. Makes sense,” and keep writing.
The good thing: this was definitely just a case of me being rusty. I let those tools slip because I convinced myself the writing part of my brain and the editing part are two totally separate things and the tools that work for one side don’t work for the other.
But that’s not true, and, thankfully, I remember that now.
So my editing process, is, at least, finally set.
- Big Fixes Pass.
- Small Tweaks Pass (remembering the mental tools I have at my disposal making sure to not massively over-think things [which I guess is a new mental tool?]).
- And the Line Feedback Pass.
Outside of all of that, I’m just accepting that I can let go of Memory and that, outside of suggestions from potential future editors, this second draft is just going to be what the novel is.
Because changing it into something else isn’t helping anyone—least of all me.
With that said, I’m off to edit
the hell out of the rest of the novel in the coming month.
Here’s to hoping it isn’t a total nightmare.
Thanks for reading. Next week, I’m back to content that doesn’t directly involve my process. If you enjoyed what you read here, I definitely appreciate Likes and / or Follows.
Until next time, take care, stay hydrated, and, if you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the teaser for Across the Spider-Verse: Part One! Bye!