“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”
- William James
We all have difficulty with change. Perhaps its human nature, the desire to leave unchanged the fruit of our work into which we put so much of ourselves.
The hope that our written words will stand the test of time, bringing the story we hope to tell directly to our readers unedited, pristine and pure as it formed on our mind’s eye when we conceptualized the tale we choose to tell.
Perhaps this is why so many writers don’t want to edit their own work.
Me, not so much. I benefit a lot from the editing portion of the program, and yet, I too despise change. I don’t, however, see editing as change. I see it as improvement.
If you do home improvement, try this analogy: it’s the finishing coat of varnish on a perfectly handcrafted piece of custom furniture. It’s not anything that really changes your work, it simply makes it better. Like the exotic mustard on a special sandwich, or the whipped cream on the home-made pie.
Is it always needed? Not always, but it should always be considered. Not for the changes that lie in the editing itself but for the improvement to the story that makes it better than the original draft.
This is why learning self editing is so important. When we don’t believe we can trust others to change our work we need to understand how to take the task upon ourselves. More difficult? Yes, but infinitely better than the perceived butchery of other less skilled hands.
I firmly believe I cannot be objective when in editing mode, and therefore I elect others to do this for me. On the first pass, a trusted critique partner to point out flagrant flaws. On the seconds pass, I use a checklist of simple things we often don’t see in our own work on the original draft. Then I let it sit while I work on something else, fermenting if you will, like fine wine. (Oh, the delusions of grandeur!)
For the last pass, if you’re not absolutely, positively capable of lethal criticism, I recommend paid editing. Nothing like hearing the unvarnished truth from an industry professional. Make sure it’s some one you trust and respect. You’ll need to value the opinion you’re paying for, and then maybe you’ll learn to edit for yourself in a clear and objective fashion.