I like editing.
I find writing a first draft of a novel like digging the clay from the ground with my fingernails. Sometimes I hit a rich seam, other days I’m scraping at scraps and wondering if there’s any clay left to find. But it all builds up eventually and you end up with enough – more than enough – words for a novel. But they are so not in the right order. And the pile of words looks nothing like a story.
Editing is turning a pot. It feels much closer to creating the vision I have in my head. In fact, when I was editing The Night Rainbow two years ago I wrote this.
The second draft (after the first edit) looks more or less like a finished piece – let’s say a vase. You can at least tell what it’s supposed to be. But it’s still ugly and the flowers would sit badly in it. This is assuming of course that it hasn’t gone all wobbly and you’ve had to start again. That can happen. Sometimes more than once…
The third draft will look much better though. The nuances start to shine through.
Still you keep going. With every spin of the wheel you find another imperfection, and as you correct it you notice that it now shows up other flaws. Will this thing ever be perfect? Will it ever be good enough?
Eventually there will come a time to say yes. But I’m not there yet with this book. I’m only just finishing the second draft and looking forward to the first round of polishing. And the next…and the next.
Of course it still won’t be finished, not for this book – first it’s off to my agent and then my publisher and then there’ll be (touch wood) a whole new set of edits. If you’re interested in my experience of the firing, painting and glazing process you can find out more in these posts:
Photo above via Flickr Creative commons. For (c) see here.