It's Brilliant! Now, Change It.
~ Earlier today, I submitted my first round of edits (on my first novel) back to my editor. As I'm hitting "send", I paused to reflect for a moment on how much I'm learning about the writing process. While the book-geek in me is completely jazzed about all of it, editing has certainly been an eye opener.
When I first sent my completed book in for editing (or, as I've learned since then, my "first draft"), I knew there would certainly be a few edits. Most likely just spelling and grammar correction. Maybe a few adjectives swapped out. What came back was a document 'bloody' with mark-ups, corrections, suggestions, etc.
To be clear, my editor is awesome. She gave my story praise, while suggesting ways to make it even better. She's a seasoned pro at this, where I've just put my toe in the water (okay, maybe I've gotten in up to my knees). In any case, the edits that she made and suggested were very helpful. Upon receiving her mark-ups, I immediately proclaimed something like "Great! I'll have this back in a couple of days!". I'm not sure why she didn't bust out laughing on the spot.
That was roughly two weeks ago.
What I've learned is that first-draft edits are typically brutal. I literally felt as though I were re-writing a third of the book here. A little research provided me with validation that I'm not alone (by a long shot) in feeling like this. In fact, it was Earnest Hemingway who said "The first draft of anything is shit" (yes, really). I'm not sure I'd agree with him on my book 'In The Dark', but the second-draft is certainly much better than the first.
I've since read countless suggestions and advice on how to approach the writing of your first draft. One thing is certain: Everyone has a different philosophy.
For some, writing the first draft with reckless abandon was key. Never trying to correct things. Not even necessarily connecting the story together in a coherent fashion. Instead, just blasting out words. For others, slowing down the process enough to allow for more closely examined sentences, storyline and plot flow works best (this method works best for me too).
Whichever approach you take in writing your first draft, just know that it's far from complete. It's going to need editing. Lots and lots of editing, and then more editing after that. At some point, (one or many drafts later), the editing will stop and your book will be ready to print. But, in the end, don't you want the best possible version of your story to be the one that gets told?
Also, did I mention lots of editing?