Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Churn: My poor hands, my poor eyes, my etc.

I've spent the past two weeks doing nothing but editing old stories that I once considered of utterly, irretrievably poor quality. The results have been quite spectacular: from an editorial circulation of about 18 tales, I've gone up to 26, and more are set to roll out in the coming days. I've found the editing process a fun and refreshing change from writing new material.

Indeed, I have come somewhat to resemble this fine old lady (pictured). My objective is to create the finest, most delicious butter for the other peasants of the village; a burdensome task, requiring much physical stamina, but one that generates a product of which one can be proud. There is perhaps only one real downside: that what is to become fine cream begins as rancid cow piss.

Which is not to say that editing is particularly difficult; only that residing in the presence of "old stories" can become, you might say, "stinky" after a certain amount of time - beyond the certain tiredness that comes along with reading, writing, deleting, etc.

For me, the challenge is principally a matter of volume. I today finished edits on a 15,000 word novelette, which ended up running to 19,000 words. That is so many words - especially when you're reading them for the second time. I was exhausted by the end of the work; but, afterwards, I somehow also managed to spin out the edits on another 1,500 word short.

That, then, is the trick: to move quickly. And, on the bright side, many of the stories residing presently in my trunk are indeed short - which is precisely the reason I've been able to add nearly ten of them to my "submittable" repertoire. However, with three novels sitting on that there back-burner awaiting edits, I am somewhat anxious as to how difficult perpetuating this task in the direction of the romanesque might in the end prove. Granted, I edited 15,000 words in under a week, and two of my so-called "novels" are only about 45,000 words long - precisely triple the length of the novelette. Therefore, I can expect to edit one such novel in just under a month.

...can't I?

I certainly hope so, though very long fiction tends to tire me. But I've made it an objective to spin one of those novels out: I'm utterly sick of having them just sitting there, instead of sending queries to agents (or, for that matter, e-booking them up myself). The novelette, then, was good practice. This next week, I'll take it easy, working on the yarns that I can do-up in a day or two; then, it's on to the big guns.

Hopefully, I will have the fortitude of my elderly butter-churning compatriot, and be able to lift and squish until the very end of my 45,000 words - which must, I suspect, have some equivalence in gallons. If granny can do it, why not I?



  1. "I've found the editing process a fun and refreshing change from writing new material" -- I agree, it can be a great change of pace and a much-needed refresher.

  2. Speed is important when editing. My theory is if it takes me longer to edit than to actually write the thing, something's gone wrong somewhere. Either write faster...or better.

    Of course, I get bored easily.

  3. Ineresting. Speed isn't my thing, not when I have to break it up into smaller sessions, but I do need to finish a revision before moving to other projects or I lose my intentions for the story.

    Sorry I haven't been around for a while - very glad to see you're pushing yourself! :D