Monday, June 6, 2016

The gift of a good edit

Writing is the best.

But editing is so very close. And recently I got to be on the other side of the editing desk, when I got back edits on a short story of mine.

Receiving edits is always a bit scary - did they hate it? Worse, do they want me to make it into something completely different? Am I still going to be able recognize my baby under all those red lines?

I clicked open the file, skimmed the margin for the brightly-colored comment boxes, devoured the comments breathlessly, and then let out a sigh of relief and satisfaction. Yes. These were those kind of edits—the kind of edits that were going to make my work better, stronger, clearer.

I love good edits. It’s such a huge gift when an editor reads your story, likes it, and understands it.

And understands it even better than you did when you first wrote it.

That’s the feeling anyway: you read the comments and you think, “Wow! You’re right! Of course doing it that way makes more sense. How did I not see that?”

But any embarrassment you might feel at the original failures of your story are swallowed up in the joy of knowing that now, now the story is going to fly. It’s going to glow.

It’s going to be its very best self.

Because that’s what editing is all about: it is about making a story (or an article, or an essay, or a book) its very best self.  Good editors don’t change the soul of the story. They clear all the clutter out of the way so that soul can shine. They might change the “how” of the story, but they don’t change the “what”.

I was excited about this story when I wrote it. I got that writer’s high that’s better than a good glass of red wine. I was soaring all day after I finished it.

But I’m even more solidly happy now. First, because it’s sold.

But secondly, because it’s going to be a better story. It’s going to be more solid. Now I know where to trim the ambiguity, where to plump up the description, where to draw the reader in a little more.

Now, thanks to the gift of editing, my story is going to be its very best self.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

p.s. Yes, once the story is actually published, I'll let you know where you can get a copy and read it! :)

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