You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke. —Arthur Polotnik
This seems particularly appropriate, since I’m currently whacking words with enthusiasm as I edit a story before submitting it to an anthology. Lose words here, tighten the phrasing there–I’m trying to make this as lean, yet meaty, as possible. No excess, no fat to burn, just pure story.
The first round of edits for me is often the hardest. I’ve just written those words, poured so much into them, and now I have to cut them? Well…yes. It’s fortunate for me that the first round of editing is less about word-tightening than about making sure the story is a story, that the flow is there. I concentrate on that, cutting a few words here and there as I go along. Later passes through the editing machine are easier. I’ve seen the story grow stronger and better, not shrivel and die, with each pruning. In round two, I can cut out whole scenes with no compunctions. Cutting becomes a game: How many words did I cut this time? Only 200? Ha! I can do better. Try again.
Today, though, the game ends. I will save the final changes, then export the draft. After checking the document one last time — for formatting errors — I will attach it to the email and hit Send, thereby launching another ship into the ether-eal sea.
Sigh. Time to start on another.