xceptionally brave authors don’t look upon the completion of the first draft with the mixture of mingled pride and stomach dropping dread as the rest of us. For with the closing of the teetering, holey, rough-shod draft comes what most writers I know fear the most: Revision & Self-Editing. It’s the fear that comes with knowing that the thing you’ve spent weeks or months or years slaving over, destroyed relationships for, permanently messing up your spine and posture because of, now has to be picked apart with a fine toothed comb. It has to be self-graded and spat upon. It has to be tsked at and told it’s not good enough. It has to give up all of its disappointing flaws and you have to acknowledge that they exist.
Can’t we just take a teenie moment to reflect on the joy that comes from completing a creative endeavor? No, absolutely not, because this is not a complete project (at least, not if you don’t want to be told, “Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us.”) This is a half formed, stumbling monstrosity that you can’t let see the light of day. No, no, not how it is. Goodness gracious did Anne Bradstreet ever have it right when she wrote about ill-formed offspring dressed in rags.
Fortunately, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers isn’t the nightmare it seems to be when the ‘D’ in THE END is still drying on the page. The internet gives all writers a peek into The Copyeditor’s Handbook so that everyone, seasoned grammarian and struggling high schooler alike, has access to the same wealth of knowledge.
So hold your heads high, my fellow writers, and hold your drafts a little lower so that no one else can see them quite yet. Walk boldly into the future knowing that despite there being numerous peaks left to climb, the editing mountain has a neat little foot path for you to follow. Stick with it and you’ll have no trouble.
Unless you’re Editing Canadian English, in which case you’re pretty much screwed.