fiction | writing | Writing Insights

Aiming to be a contender



I’m half way through the first edit of my novel and I am filled with mixed emotions. I want to reach for the feeling of elation that consumed me when I completed the first draft and typed those last six letters; THE END. As right now the only emotions I am feeling are very much the opposite.

Editing is a long process filled with late nights and early mornings. It’s writing, re-writing and re-writing. Again and again and again. It’s daunting and frustrating. I was actually looking forward to the editing process. I shelved the first draft for a good six months hoping like a good stew, it would simmer away and be mouth-wateringly brilliant when I lifted the lid. Right now, though it is still very much underdone. Raw and stringy.

It’s not that I don’t think it’s any good. It is good, in parts at least. There are passages that make me read twice wondering if someone talented has hacked my computer and written those words. But they are few and far between. Mostly I wonder what the hell I’m going to do with those words.

I know I’m being harsh on myself. I know all writers go through stages of hating their work. Periods where they can’t bear to look at the page.

The story is consuming me. It blinds any rational thoughts that would be useful in editing. I know these characters as if they were my own children, their thoughts and feelings engraved on my brain. I feel I am too close. For use of a better analogy; I can’t see the forest for the trees.

I take solace in the fact that all it really is right now is simply the bare bones of a novel. I can see the potential but just now it feels frustratingly out of reach.

I’ve now come to realise why mentors, writing groups and an outsiders opinion are a necessity in the editing process. As Stephen King famously says

‘Write with the door closed, re-write with the door open.’

In other words get the words and story down in your own time, no interruptions, no-ones input apart from your own, and then when you are happy with your attempts edit with the reader in mind and with input from the wider fields. Such sage advice.

So I guess I’m breaking the first rule of editing! Sorry Mr. King. And although I know my own edits will most likely, okay, absolutely, need to be re-edited and re-written I just don’t feel it’s ready to put out there without them. For me this initial edit is more like completing the first draft. Properly.

As my regular readers will know I have a deadline. June. That is when I will had over my first draft (properly completed first draft) to my mentor and be guided by her knowledge, advice and wisdom. I’m preparing myself for a lot of work upon receiving her feedback. More writing, more re-writing. But I know the eyes of someone else are needed to bring my story to life, to feed it, to give it guts and meat to its bones. For it to be strong enough to be a contender. After all, there’s a lot of competition out there.