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On Editing

You are editing.  That is all that you are doing.  You are editing a novel.  You are drawing red lines through sentences and words and double-checking tenses and strands of story and holding your breath each time you press save in MS Word, for fear of crashing.  You are thanking the MacBook God for the screen save command and the force quit buttons.

Editing is no walk in the park.  You knew it wouldn’t be, but you somehow thought this edit would be the easiest, this last or nearly-so draft.  You have tested your plot and characters.  You feel confident about what you have.  You have editors now, brilliant people who can see your book, because you suspect you can no longer see it.  You are walking through it, arms out, editing by touch, by sense, by gut.  You are trusting your story, and yet… yet…

All you are doing is editing.  You are looking so carefully at what you have done and telling yourself you do not have to unpick the whole of the thing and put it together again, because that is how you tend to edit.  You are trying to look hard and fast at the thing and to trust it. Trust the work you have done and also to know when it is not your best.  And to make it your best.  And when you find a whole chapter that you do not need, even after all these drafts, all this looking, you are not worried when you press delete.  You are thanking the MS Word God of track changes, too.  Look at how the universe conspires to help you.  Go, red pen, go.   You are only editing.

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