Staring at the finish line…from behind a mountain of manuscripts.


Usually I like to give bad news first and then the good news, because it softens the blow, so to speak. In this case it won’t make any sense, so here goes:

GOOD NEWS: I’ve finally finished my collection of short stories! Huzzah! Bring out the champagne!
The BAD NEWS? The official editing process begins! *Groans* Bring out some more champagne, a few bottles of red wine and some painkillers won’t you? It’s going to be a long ride…

Yes I’m not really a fan of editing even though it’s an inevitable part of the writing process. Even the most exciting jobs have their downsides, I suppose.

I tried to fathom out why I hate it so much. I do remember commenting on someone’s blog about this not too long ago. I recall saying that with editing, I don’t experience that same buzz like the feeling when an idea pops into my head and I feel the need to write it down quick and thereafter develop a story to work that idea in. That initial act of putting pen to paper is akin to being on a high. Once that first draft is completed,you feel mighty proud of it.

And then another reason struck me as to why I dread editing. After that initial buzz, returning to that first draft is like a cold, hard reality-slap in the face. Mistakes are EVERYWHERE: in the grammar, in the spelling, holes in the plot and in some instances, a certain passage will make no sense whatsoever and you waste half-an-hour trying to figure out why you wrote it in the first place.(And don’t even talk about when that one particular scene just won’t be good enough and you end up in this vicious, twisted cycle of editing and re-editing and then adding some more changes with no end in sight. This will happen at some point, I can guarantee it.)

You then come to the realization that you are not the perfect, super-awesome writer you thought you were, with that special, God-came-down-and-blessed-you-with-his-right-hand-saying-you-are-going-to-be-great sort of talent. You’re a normal human being just like everybody else who has some serious work to do.

Each of these folders contains at least two manuscripts. Who wants to help me edit? Nobody? Yeah, I thought so...

Yeah, reality certainly can bite.

But no pain, no gain right?
So off I go, to experience the joys of hell editing.
The Good news is I’ve already edited two stories. The bad news? I’ve got 12 more to go. *groan*

I’ve given myself one whole month to complete this task. Wish me luck.

NM 🙂

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34 thoughts on “Staring at the finish line…from behind a mountain of manuscripts.

  1. Katy says:

    Congrats on finishing the collection! How exciting! Can’t wait to read them after the dreaded editing is done 😉

  2. nelle says:

    Yay on finishing and grrrr on not liking editing. *hypnotises you* You will like editing, you will like editing, you will like editing…

    I’m weird in lots of ways, and one more is a love of editing. I wish to share the love with you, so watch the oscillating watch. 🙂

    The idea comes first, so seeing a million errors on return is expected, not a sign of some failure. This is where you get to take your story, a rock dug out of kimberlite, now you get to cut and shine it up. You can do it, and you will enjoy it! Okay, you can wake up now. 😉

    • Nisha says:

      Oh Nelle, I so wish cross-Atlantic hypnotism worked (I guess it is a bit far!), I don’t mind being turned into an editing-loving zombie for just a few weeks, just so I can complete this. Thanks for sharing a bit of your love! Hugs xxx

      • nelle says:

        Just keep saying the words, “I love editing, I love editing…” and smile throughout… think of how wonderful your work will be, and how proud you will feel of your accomplishments.

        When I taught my eldest how to drive, at the time our two vehicles had manual transmissions. I’d take her to the school road, still a dirt one in those days, and make her drive thirty feet and stop, thirty feet and stop. The vehicle would shake and stall as if we rode a bucking horse and she would get all upset, including at me. “Why can’t we have cars with automatic transmissions like everyone else?” I’d try not to giggle too much. When it came time for her license exam, she had a choice of using one of our vehicles or using her grandmother’s with an automatic transmission. She chose one of ours, and passed. Her first car…manual transmission. She bought a new one where she could pick what she wanted, manual transmission.

        Sometimes it seems tough, sometimes we hate it, and sometimes… we learn to love it. You are a talented writer, and editing makes your work all the better. Hard, but such a great feeling of accomplishment.

        It’s okay to growl at me as my daughter did. I’ll try not to giggle if you grouse and vent, but you master this editing thing and make it your own, in your own way.

      • Nisha says:

        I won’t growl I promise! 🙂

        That’s true, hey, once we master something, it becomes easier. I just keep looking at the big picture and like you said, that feeling of accomplishment will make it all the worthwhile. Awesome Nelle, love ya!! xx

  3. Good luck, Nisha! And congrats on the completion of your draft—always a feat worth celebrating. (Hilarious opening to this post, by the way… ;))

    • Nisha says:

      August, I wish I had the time to celebrate. My mind will only rest when the editing is done. Once my book is done and dusted though, it will be party time all the way, and you will all be invited!!! 😀

  4. On the flip side, editing gives you the opportunity to see something you’ve written thru fresh eyes and fall in love with it all over again. Red pen at the ready, baby – good luck!

  5. Wow! That’s a huge accomplishment. CONGRATULATIONS! 🙂 I hope to read the finished product soon. 🙂 I really enjoyed reading this entry.

  6. Barb says:

    C’mon Nisha. No more groaning. Put those stories away and let the whole thing percolate for a week or two until your mind is cooled off. This is just the first round of edits. A cup of tea, a plate of grapes and cheese and you’ll be ready to start feathering in texture and layers. It’s just like sculpting (but with a keyboard). Congratulation on getting the first layer down. Hooray.

    • Nisha says:

      Oh no, Barb, no I can’t afford to take a break, it took me years of procrastination to get to this point ;P I’m going to hit the road while my engines are still running (sorry that was a weird metaphor). Speaking of metaphors, I’m keep hearing about sculpting. I feel like picking up a chisel for some reason…

      • Barb says:

        Truly. Il find if I work on something else for a while, I come back to my writing with a fresh eye. I work on a different novel, an article, or short story. Even reading a book by a very good writer will recharge me, give me new ideas and my edits are so much better. Best of luck.

      • Nisha says:

        I’m exactly like you Barb! I like working on different things as it keeps out the boredom. The good thing is because it’s a collection of shorts, every story is unique. So it feels likes I’m working on different projects even though it’s all for the same purpose.

        Reading a good book, also, is always a source of inspiration for my writing, although I have been a bit slow with my reading lately.
        Thanks for the advice! 😀

  7. trixfred30 says:

    Well done for getting that far. My stories consist of lists of possibilities and thats it. Even my oldest son has got further than that. He’s come up with a story about the Med Sea being drained (its been done but we have come up with a new twist)

  8. jenniferneri says:

    You’re right – we’re completely at the same point! lol
    Painful, yes I know, but pleasure too, at the success of filling on those holes and seeing it all so smooth!
    I know some writers who hate the drafting stage and love the editing. I’m the opposite, but I am beginning to enjoy the editing a lot more as time goes by.
    Good editing!

    • Nisha says:

      I’m clearly the opposite too but you’re right, it is a wonderful feeling to see that final polished product. So we’re in this together Jennifer; at least I have another ‘editing buddy’ to complain to, ha ha 😉

  9. Just a month? You must be an editing champ! I am spending this year editing my stories, at a rate of one per month. That won’t let me get to all of them, but four weeks seems to be my necessary allotment to get a few decent passes in. Can’t wait to hear about your editing process. We should swap drink recipes/other painkilling tips and tricks sometime.

    • Nisha says:

      Ha ha! Jessica, I know I won’t finish in a month but I like to set a slightly unrealistic deadline so it motivates to work harder. If I give myself too much time, I just procrastinate.
      Awesome, another editing buddy! I’ll try to post updates when I get the chance but absolutely, we should definitely crack open a virtual bottle of red sometime 🙂

  10. Neeks says:

    Good luck on the editing, and Kudos to you for setting that goal for the month. If I did that I would freak out and never get them done, hehe.
    Editing is awful, and there’s just no way around it if we are serious about writing. I do a lot of editing as I go, so it’s not so big a job afterward. “Edit” is too benign a word for the process too, we need a new word like – Gack or Zagg or something. 🙂

    • Nisha says:

      “What are you doing?”
      “I’m busy Gacking.”

      Yeah, Neeks that word will do perfectly! He he 😉 Glad you agree with me. I was beginning to feel like an old woman who complains a lot! And you are right, there is no way around it; I suppose we have to deal with the bad and ugly to get to the good stuff. Always great to hear from you Neeks! 😀

  11. beckyday6 says:

    OHHH MY GOD SOMEHOW MY BLOG UNFOLLOWED YOU! I’M SO ANGRY AJJSDNGTIOZSJG!!! HOW DARE IT DO THAT WITHOUT MY PERMISSION!!! So sorry Nisha, I have no idea how that happened! I wondered why I hadn’t gotten any posts through from you in a while 😦
    Anyways, *tries desperately to get over the initial shock* great post, I couldn’t agree more, it’s almost like, every time you go through the editing process you have to face your fears each time. I find this not only with fiction but also with essays and coursework, it’s a feeling of squeemish dream, but it can’t be avoided I’m afraid….
    Congratulations on finishing your short stories! 🙂

    • Nisha says:

      I say we unleash a can of whip-ass on WordPress, those evil people!! No need to apologise Beckster, stuff like this keeps happening all the time on WP. It’s becoming the norm for me. ;(

      Yes, facing our fears each and every time, it’s like torture I tell you!. And very embarrassing too! Having to read everything you’ve written in a moment of creative frenzy! Ha ha.

      Thanks, I’m glad I finished too! 🙂

  12. […] – Me vs.The Editing Witch Posted on March 2, 2012 by Nisha If you read my post Staring At the Finish Line… over a month ago and if you have a good memory you will remember that I gave myself a deadline. […]

  13. With Luck says:

    I feel the same way when editing my students’ work. Cracking open that bottle of wine is essential! I admire professional editors. Great post 🙂

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