CHISELING A STORY INTO ITS MASTERPIECE
It's taking me years to complete my first novel. Between writing the first draft which, in its own special right is its own special monster (because you have to unblock fears in order for the story to flow out), you then have to rewrite, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite and den some, which is almost a never ending battle because a perfectionist never thinks their story is good enough when they keep finding ways to make it better. But suddenly, something inside knows when it's time to give birth. Ready or not, the universe propels you to move forward and share your work of art with the world! And so you take your chances. Now... when you send it off, guess what is the last step before putting it into print? Editing!
Usually, an author doesn't edit their own work. They send it off to an extra pair of eyes, and if their that serious, they send it off to a couple of people - the more the merrier! And after their ghost writers or editors finish their job, the publisher has their own in-house editor that gives the book its last shave. But here's the deal: Would you rather write your own novel, or edit someone else's?
To me, it's like choosing between coffee or tea. Both drinks keep you up during long work hours, both are somewhat healthy to digest, and both are faithful companions that will stick with you throughout the entire process - since their addicting. But the truth is that most people prefer one over the other, and rarely drink both. You're either a coffee drinker or a tea lover. Me? Well, I love coffee & and I like tea. (And to be even more specific, I prefer Dunkin Donuts over Starbucks any day - not because of the atmosphere, but because of their killer, delicious hash browns!)
Okay... so here's my coffee & tea comparison to writing & editing. Even though writing my own novel is a super long process, it's also very satisfying because it's my own idea, which makes it my baby. But... when I'm editing someone else's story, the love is a little bit different because I can't change or alter their story since it's their vision. All I can do is enhance it by polishing up the spelling, grammer, and maybe... maybe... maybe rearranging certain scenes in a different order so that their story flows a little bit better.
What I'm learning, however, is that I SHOULD put as much TLC into someone else's story when I edit because that's what I'd want my editor to do for mine. The last thing a writer wants is to send their story off to an editor and it comes back disfigured. So, as I take on this new project, editing an Anthology compiled of other women's stories, I keep in mind that every short story is someone's baby. And so my job as an editor is not to change anything, but to clean it up - give their story a shape up sort of speak.
If you ask me what I prefer, editing someone else's work or writing my own story, I'll say that I prefer writing my own story while drinking a cup of cafe con leche. (caliente) And while there are other writers who enjoy editing other author's stories more than writing their own, there will always be die hard tea drinkers whose taste buds prefer herbal tea drinks over coffee any day. Neither one is better than the other; because it's sort of the same difference.