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The Horrors of Self-Editing

I love to write, and I write quickly. Part of the problem, though, is once I'm finished telling a story I tend to move directly on to the next one. It is not uncommon for writers to be somewhat intimidated by the blank page . . . all of that white space to fill, and whatnot. I have the opposite reaction. Give me a blank page - either physical or on my computer screen - and I immediately start filling it with text. Which brings us to the bane of my existence. Self-editing.


I remember about a decade ago when I was experimenting with writing screenplays. I'd finish one off, print it out and put it in on a clipboard hidden away in my East Palo Alto apartment. After two weeks, I'd force myself to grab that clipboard and take it to the public library. There, I'd slowly read through it and make edits where necessary . . . even noting where some more information should be added or a scene could be summarized.

Since turning my talents to prose - of the "novel" kind - I've noticed that a lot more editing is necessary. Whether it is playing with the formatting, reading for typos or editing character names, a book demands much more attention than a screenplay. Adding to that the possibility of writing entirely new characters, plot lines or fleshing out a motivation with 10 or 20 new pages of text - sheesh.

Take Sketch, for example.

This was a book that was written during the National Novel Writing Month competition in 2012. I really didn't plan on ever seeing it in print. It was a fun story, but I didn't think it would ever go past the "contest entry" stage.

Fast forward to 2014. I had let a few trusted individuals read the story and it was met with favorable response. I decided, What the heck, let's publish this sucker. As I type this at the end of December, I have now read through Sketch six times. I've managed to add about 20 pages of new text, and inserted a new minor character to the original competition novel. I'm pretty happy with it, but this self-editing stuff is for the birds.

Next on the agenda - - get rich and hire a professional editor for my books.

It feels nice to have a plan.

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