Tunnel Vision: Editing and the Creative Process

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The view from my borrowed desk in Sweden

Editing has, historically, been my least favorite part of writing. I have always loved the creating, finding it very easy to meet new ideas and conjure fresh concepts. Editing was the stage in which I noticed my shortcomings and weaknesses, and I thought it depressing.

In the last four years, I have grown tremendously as a writer. I have had the wonderful good fortune to meet other writers and creatives, and have allowed myself to feel a part of a community. I have collaborated with several writers and have learned so very much from them. My writing has improved dramatically and I have learned to enjoy editing. I’ve found that editing other people’s work is quite fun, and working my own pieces until they shine is very rewarding.

That is, until the very final stages.

I am currently in Malmo, Sweden, working on the final stages of my latest book, Shattering the Mirror. Our travel is moving toward the faster-paced on March 1st, so I need to have the book publishing ready by February 29th. I am (luckily!) nearing the end of the edits for the manuscript. While this is exciting, it also feels very intense.

At this stage, I am making sure everything is perfect. Typos, grammatical errors, punctuation errors, and formatting must be correct, but that’s the easy part. I must ensure that every piece of this book is consistent, that it is cohesive, that it packs the right punch, that nothing drags, that no part is lacking. To quote James Joyce:

“I have the words already. What I am seeking is the perfect order of words in the sentence.”

This is where my sanity goes a little fuzzy. This is the part where I start to carry on full conversations with my dog while laying on the kitchen floor. This is when I start to get jumpy. Literally jumpy. My phone went off yesterday and I startled so bad I dropped my pen.

This part of writing requires a lot of focus and concentration. Anything that doesn’t work will stick out like a sore thumb. So I go over and over and over the work, checking everything again and again, letting other people give me feedback. I’m so glad I have a deadline—and one that is so absolute. It’s the light at the end of my twitchy, coffee-fueled tunnel of picking and picking and picking at my work.

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