This past week, I sold one story and received a request for edits on another.
While that is pretty cool, I thought this might be a good opportunity to talk vaguely about editing.
There is no guarantee that I will sell that second story, but they seemed to like most of it. They had some problems with the flow of the story and how it would work for their particular venue. I agree with them. I hadn’t written it with them in mind, but for the way they work, there is a better configuration for this story.
I don’t know how other writers approach editing words, but I have done a lot of video and image editing, so it may come as no surprise, I work in a similar way with text. I like to take big chunks of story and reposition them on the page as if it were an editing timeline. Then I might pick individual words, phrases, or lines from one spot and move them to another, just to see how they would fit. I float paragraphs into gaps I have made and polish over the seams. That’s just the way my brain works now. It has spent far too much time dealing with the visual side of storytelling and if I can provide it with a metaphor it understands, dealing with language goes much smoother.
It was very heavily implied in the request for edits that some writers might not want to change anything about their stories. I get that, but my brain is also extremely used to making changes and revisions based on client requests. It’s practically my default state. Making the first thing is difficult, but making changes is conceptually so much simpler for me. Again, this is absolutely from the point of view of someone who has been a commercial artist for decades at this point.
Just like anyone, there are things I value in my stories, places where I won’t compromise, but I don’t think it’s out of some sort of quest for artistic purity. I always want to make whatever I’m working on better. If the suggestion or criticism could make the image or animation or story I’m working on better, I will almost always want to do that. If it breaks something core to the story, or changes it in a way that isn’t making it better, I think I would be more inclined to dig my heels in.
I don’t think that ‘going back to the drawing board’ is a thing that exists. People have too many internal biases and preconceptions. Once they see one version of a thing, erasing that and starting over truly fresh is not possible. That first experience will continue through the entire process. As will the second and third. Even if the final result doesn’t resemble the initial idea, there is no escaping it. The only real way to edit anything is by moving forward through the process. Every change and revision, even deleting something, is forward movement. Not because that sounds like good motivational poster fodder, but because the past impacts the future. What you did before, what you saw before, what you wrote or read before, will change the ultimate result of your work.
All of this is the long way of saying, I sort of like editing. It’s like having a lot of clay to work with and only during the editing process do you start to define forms and clarify details. And it works with my brain better than coming up with the initial ideas.
I’ll stop writing this and go back to editing.