Monday, April 6, 2015

E is for editing which is not exactly revising in the Abcedaria of Revising

What is the difference between editing and revising? Hell if I know. All I know is that when I think about revising I'm happy and excited and when I think about editing I get anxious and fretful. The book I use most in revising is called The Artful Edit by Susan Bell - does she distinguish between the two? I have to say, having read it cover to cover many times - I don't know!

Is editing (and revising) the shadow part of writing? Perhaps, if it elicits such fear in one's heart! Perhaps it is because when we create something it is still wrapped in mystery.  When we edit it we are unwrapping all of that and really looking (or listening) to what the story is saying. That can be frightening.

Perhaps it is a problem with the word edit altogether, which for many of us seems to indicate a weeding process - a taking away. It doesn't need to though - this is a misreading of the word. It can just as easily mean putting more in. The real meaning is to have the right words down - the images that work best to convey the feeling the writer is after.Sometimes that means weeding and sometimes planting.

I suppose the real reason the word editing strikes fear in my heart is that I'm scared of being wrong - not in my plot, my characters or even my word choice - but in my grammar, my punctuation and so on. I've ignored that part of my tool box because I don't think I know enough. Why do I even think that? I read widely and deeply. I employ those who will help me with those pesky details - my partner is excellent at that and happy to catch my many foibles (no, not here - I really don't fuss here!) and I also hire with actual money those that know that part of the craft.

But revising - that is like working a raw sculpture to me - so exciting. I don't want to lose the original idea, the impetus that got me into the story but I do want to reveal it - make it clear and shiny so others will see it as I do. Hmmm....

Here is a photo of my dear Bella (the one with her back to us) and two of her pals...

8 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I'm with you...I think I enjoy *revising* more than editing. For me, revision is more creative than editing and I believe I use a different part of my brain.

Margot Kinberg said...

Editing and revising really are different, aren't they, Jan? To me, revising is adding in new ideas and freshness and so on. It leads to a more sparkling story and lets you show your creativity. Editing is seeing all of the lumps and bumps you've left in your story. Still gives you a sense of pride when it's done (because the work is better), but no, not as positive for me either.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Well, just think of that e word as revising and you'll be fine! I think I'm the other way around.

Jan Morrison said...

Oh oh youse guys - I don't think they are different - I know for a fact that what Susan Bell calls self-editing I call revising. She does look at the big picture as well as the pesky details. Now I have to see if I've lost my mind. I well could have...

Kern Windwraith said...

I tend to think of editing as part of the revision process, but what the heck do I know? Honestly, not enough to comment intelligently. What I do know is that I have a first draft waiting for me to do one or the other and most likely both. :)

Shirley Corder said...

Jan, I enjoyed this post. I am one of those rare birds I guess. I enjoy revising. I love seeing the raw bones of the skeleton gaining meat and forming features. But editing is a challenge. You see, I live in Africa, where we write in British English, although I try to remember which is Brit and which is American when I write. But I edit usually to American English because that is my normal market. Not for the AtoZ Challenge though. You're getting my posts in British English, so there! I take time to revise but when it comes to punctuation and spelling, you're stuck with the British form.

Jan Morrison said...

Shirley, we Canucks write in British English too....or we should! That's why I call this the A to Zed and always use colour and call my mother mum. I'm sure that it will all get rejigged if I sell to an amurikan market but not a problem so far!

Mandy Justin said...

It's interesting that you see editing and revising as totally different from one another when I see them as the same thing. I'm completely okay taking out words, content, commas, etc… whatever is needed to get my point across more clearly. In essence isn't that really the point of revising? I think the only time I've really hated editing was when I was in school and had to meet a specific word limit. At that point cutting content to make my point more clear was heartbreaking.