This week on Facebook, a friend of mine posted a cute cartoon about the difference between writing and editing. When I sit down to write, I know what I want to have happen, I know what my characters think, feel, how they act, and what they say. When I edit, I realize that what I thought was genius in the moment does not translate a month removed from my thoughts.
I'm currently editing my first novel. Since beginning, I have added a chapter, deleted another chapter, completely rewritten two and rearranged the order of the chapters. And that's just in the first 13 chapters! I still have 20 left to go! Just last night, I went through almost 400 comments that my three editors had made and made about 300 changes. Most were little, like commas and tense, but others had me adding paragraphs, deleting scenes and moving things around.
I can honestly say, what I thought was an epic novel when I wrote it, was a pile of crap before editing. The chapters that have been edited are shiny and beautiful and so different from their original form that I don't even want to remember what they looked like before. But, and this is the most important thing, it's still MY story.
I had always heard horror stories of editors ripping a book apart and putting it back together so that even the author wouldn't recognize it when it was done. That's not how it should be. This process is about me making changes that make my world clearer, my characters more relate-able and my story easier to read. This is turning my book into what it was always meant to be, and at the end, it'll still be mine. But it will be the best version that it can be.
Now, trying to work on the sequel while editing is another topic for another day......