A writing breakthrough

1 Jul

Certain words alway elicite fear in me: dentist, spiders and editing. Yes, as a writer you wouldn’t think that the word “editing” would basically make me want to vomit, but it does. Anytime I think of sitting down and editing my hands get clammy, my breath shallow, my head spinny.

It’s not the idea of cutting words or scenes that provokes the panic. It’s the fact that I have no idea where to start editing. Sure, page one, line one, word one is always a good place to start, but how do I actually edit a book? Every time I sit down to start I get overwhelmed. Most times I don’t even get the nerve to open up the document.

Just how serious is my fear of editing? The first draft of my book has been finished for almost 4 years.

Thankfully, though, I had a breakthrough yesterday.

I found out through a Tweet that The Globe and Mail and HarperCollins Canada were hosting a 1,000 word short story contest as part of the unveiling of the new Collins Canadian Dictionary. The deadline was last night at 23:59.  On a whim I decided to enter the contest. I had the rough draft of a short story that I had written a couple of weeks ago and thought that it was decent enough to enter. But of course I had to edit it first.

Throughout the day I edited my little short story and was amazed at not only how comfortable it felt, but that I actually enjoyed it. Picking though each line, reading it and seeing how it rolled off of my tongue. Finding a better way to describe something. Finding holes in my logic, plot and plugging them. It was a great creative release. It also helped me realize that if I take my book a page at a time, chapter at a time, the task of editing won’t be so daunting.

As I was reading through my short story for the umpteenth time I stopped really caring if I won or not. The fact that I was no longer scared of editing and was actually looking forward to it was prize enough for me.

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2 Responses to “A writing breakthrough”

  1. amymckie July 1, 2010 at 7:18 pm #

    Congratulations and best of luck in the competition! I was always the proofreader for papers and the like for my friends / boyfriends / sisters etc through school and university so editing doesn’t strike fear in me. Spiders, however. *Shudder*

  2. Amanda July 2, 2010 at 1:49 pm #

    Congrats on breaking through your fear! 🙂

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