This month, I’ve been doing something called NaNoEdMo, which stands for National Novel Editing Month. I’m using it as a motivator to get my novel edited, although I know now for sure that the entire manuscript won’t be completely revised this month, as I’m really slow.
One thing that I don’t like about editing is the constant feeling of doubt. The creative part of writing is fun, as I get to learn about my characters, watch them do crazy things (sometimes too crazy), and overall feel the immense satisfaction of spilling my thoughts onto paper. But with editing, I have to change things that don’t belong, cut out the really stupid crazy things my characters do, and get depressed about the horrible progress.
Things were especially hard with the scene I was working on. Before I even started my book, this scene had been in my head for so long, and I loved it so much, that I thought it was going to be the most enjoyable scene to write. However, every time I tried to write my novel, I would always get stuck on that scene, get so depressed, and then scrap everything and start from scratch. I had already written the scene at least four different times, excluding the fifth version that I wrote during National Novel Writing Month last November.
So, I finally reached that scene after editing the beginning chapters, and boy, was it hard. I knew from reading it that the NaNoWriMo version was the worst version yet, and I hoped to change that with my favorite pen (one that my dad got for me when he was in Japan on business) and my favorite writing spot (in the woods on a log where there is an opening above, perfect for letting in the sun on cool spring days).
After about thirty minutes of reading, thinking, scratching out, writing in margins, scratching again, reading again, drawing arrows, and more marginal notes, I discovered that the sixth version was even worse than the fifth. I was supposed to be improving when editing, right?
I was so frustrated that I decided to procrastinate and waste some time on the internet. I stumbled upon this post, and realized that I wasn’t alone with revision troubles. After reading it, I decided I’d try harder on editing that annoying scene, and it gave me the sense of confidence I needed to keep going. I began typing up the horrible changes to the computer, and realized, “Wow, I can just add this little bit of description here, and make it better,” and, “Actually, this should come first,” and “Oh, I definitely should add this bit of dialogue in here.”
Before I knew it, I stopped looking at the sixth version on paper and started typing up my thoughts anew, as if I had never written the scene before. The seventh version of the scene is the best ever. When I finished, I felt confident about my novel for the very first time. I could actually see my finished manuscript in my hands, all polished up and ready for my family to read.
Sadly, this happy moment lasted briefly. Since I like to write and edit late at night, the great joy only lasted until I fell asleep. By morning, the confidence had faded, and I’m still trying to gain it back.