What I learnt this week: editing is hugely rewarding, but I still enjoy writing

These last few months – and by few I probably mean four rather than two, I’ve spent a lot of time editing. First there were edits to a novella I wrote several years ago that I’ve tried to pummel into shape prior to submitting to my publisher. Then there were edits to the first draft of a full length book I’ve provisionally entitled Crumbs (there is a logic to this odd title – its set in a biscuit company). Running through all these were the ‘proper’ edits to Search for the Truth which began back in March.

SEARCH FOR TRUTH_front150dpi

I say proper because these were edits suggested by my editor, who really knows what’s she’s talking about. She produces a report detailing areas that can be improved: characters, plot, pace, timings etc. Far more constructive than my changing things round a bit because it doesn’t quite sound right.  

Editing a book with a real editor is like solving a puzzle, though the end result is much more satisfying. To give you a flavour of the process, think of a room in your house you think looks okay. You ask an interior designer for their opinion and they surprise you with the long list of improvements they would make (yes, editorial reports run into pages … and pages!). Trusting the professional, you make the changes – perhaps deepen the colour of the paint, remove the carpet to expose the floorboards, rearrange the seating. Add a lamp.

House from clipart paint and roller clipart

It’s not easy, and at times you wonder why you’re putting all this effort into altering what was a perfectly good room.

But then you’re finished and you stand back. The room looks so much better than it had before, yet even though it’s your room, in your house, you wouldn’t have had the insight to know how to make it better. That’s exactly how I feel when I go through the editorial process.

Now all that has finished for a while, and having sent Crumbs out to a friend and my husband for feedback, I’ve started a new book. It’s been in my head for a while, and a few weeks ago I dumped the basic outline onto paper. On Monday I typed chapter one. Today I’m on chapter four – and I can’t wait to head back into it.

  • Angela Britnell

    I like your analogy and will be doing some ‘decorating’ myself soon!