Buried in Editing and Revision


I’ve been buried under a pile of editing, and have for a while semi-avoided the subject of the book I’m writing when I’m around friends, but they usually bring it up.

“So, how’s the book coming along?”

In embarrassment I tell them I am still editing and revising.

They may raise an eyebrow and say, “Still?”

I shyly admit, “It just keeps getting better.”

I’ve read that to be a good writer you must read, read, read, and write, write, write. I’m adding, edit, edit, edit, and revise, revise, revise.

The thing is, most people don’t actually understand what editing and revising truly entail.

Let’s say someone is building a nice bookshelf to hold cherished photos and trinkets, and they want to feel good about their shelf. Besides selecting quality wood, they must design the shelf, measure precisely, and cut the wood. Next comes sanding the boards, and then sand some more. Each time the dust gets blown off, the sanding continues. Each time the wood must be inspected and re-sanded and the sandpaper texture must get finer and finer along the way. With enough TLC, the constructed shelf will be ready to stain, varnish, and become a treasured heirloom.

If what I just described was compared to the editing and revision of a book, the sanding process would continue until one practically hated that shelf and wanted to cut it up and use it for firewood. Been there.image

Revising consists of:

Filling gaps, clarifying grammar, sentence structure, and thoughts; readjusting themes, cutting, pasting, tweaking the story from multiple angles, reviewing, reworking, and I must add freaking out because I accidently deleted an entire page. Yes, I did.

Then in my book Black Coat with a Silver Lining, there’s the added dimension of writing from a male’s perspective.

Editing is uninspiring until we see a hint of glimmer that comes from the polishing. Like polishing a sterling silver tray and watching its beauty radiate as the tarnish disappears with each wipe.

Editing and revision eat an awful lot of one’s time and can be mentally exhausting.

But I have found revision and editing to be fulfilling in that the more I did the more my confidence in my writing increased. What kept me motivated was knowing that with each edit, the story truly improved.

I could probably edit forever, not because of my love for it, heaven’s no, but because it refines the story and brings out its luster. My perfectionistic tendencies don’t help much.

My story improved and took on a different perspective when I caught glitches and chinks. And just when I feared I may be over editing, I found something substantial to enhance.

Of course, we’re talking about tens of thousands of words, but it still horrified me when after I read the manuscript several times I had not caught missing punctuation at the end of three sentences or missed something so relevant like:

Wait a moment, how could the man point to something while he’s handcuffed?  Gasp!

Then I started wondering how many other mistakes I missed if something so simple got by me to begin with, and what else will be missed when it’s printed.

This can really freak out a writer, but then I try to give myself a break by reminding myself that it’s, after all, my first book and other than my pride no one will die if I miss a mistake. And you can tell by the pile of manuscripts, there are several more that didn’t make it in the picture, I did really try to give it my best.

This is when one really relies on God. Lord, please show me any mistakes before print.

The thing that really cracks me up, I thought I was ready to publish September 2013. Huh!

Here it is, April, and I am finishing with what I sincerely deem to be the last editing.

Sometimes, editing and revising feel like trying to find a plain bottle of aspirin in a twelve-foot long supermarket shelf full of colorful analgesic products, everything seems to blend in to one big picture.

That’s when it’s good to have someone else’s eyes. I’m quite grateful for the pairs of eyes that have kindly read and reread my manuscript.

To me, revising and editing is much like how God trims us to make us better. He edits unneeded word, commas, and phrases, He tweaks, cuts, pastes, and adds periods and question marks in the appropriate places. Exclamation marks are placed where we’ve been highly polished by His love and grace and the tarnish begins to fade. I can almost hear God say,

“Ta-da! My servant finally gets it!”

So, for everyone who’s heard me talking about writing a book, I am very excited. I’m shooting for end of next week!


Black Coat with a Silver Lining

A Homeless Man Finds Hope

Hmm. Maybe I should just give it one last edit. Ha!

See also A Note From an Aspiring Author

By ~ Elizabeth Yalian 2014 ©http://hiseyeisonthissparrow.com.








Filed under Author's B-Log, Everydayliving, Hope, Life and Relationships, Writing and Author Stuff

6 responses to “Buried in Editing and Revision

  1. Oh, goodness! I can relate to a few things here. Usually, I’m editing others’ work, and that’s easier than placing my own work on the chopping block. The accidental deletion of a few sentences is bad enough, but a whole page? Yes, that would be the appropriate freak out moment, I think.

    Hope your book finishes beautifully!

  2. I can completely relate; hidden behind “writing a book” is a myriad of other aspects in the writing process. In my case, I’m not only author, but editor, publisher, graphics artist and print designer all rolled into one. Just choosing the right font for a cover design took an entire day. Then there’s all the periphery writing – back cover copy, back matter, front matter, blurbs, synopses, bios, setting up marketing channels, writing announcements for various media… I have written an entire book of checklists to do AFTER the manuscript is complete; having been through the process twice now, I know what to do, but that first time was a monster.
    More power to you! Just keep going until you know it’s the best it can be, and then let it go! As Steven Spielberg says, “A film (or a book) is never finished – it’s just released.”

    • You are a lady with many titles. Wow! I am using Amazon, CreateSpace, so far I like the quality of their books. I know what you mean about the cover design and font. I ordered a proof of the entire book and was so glad because the print on the back cover was way too small. What other books have you written. What is the name of your book of checklists? It might be handy to have one. Oh, I love that quote. It is so true!! Thanks.

      • I’ve also gone with Amazon Kindle / CreateSpace; aside from the placement / size of the bar code on the back cover, all is well! The book I mentioned is only in “chicken-scratch” form at the moment – I call it my cheat-sheet. The best published book I’ve come across that helped me through the process, is “The Self Publishing Toolkit” by Daphne Dangerlove (Kindle). The titles of my books (so far – I have five more in the works!) are “The Price of Freedom” and “Redemption,” parts 1 & 2 of the Northing Trilogy, by moi (Stephanie Huesler); 18th century historical fiction. I’m working on fantasy-fiction next, before I tackle the research for the third book in the above trilogy… Good luck with your writing!

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