Editing My Fiction (or, What I Should Be Doing Instead Of Watching TV)

I don’t like editing. Like, really don’t like it.


Editing to me has always be one of those things I put off and put off and put off (and put off) until I finally run out of excuses. Then I scrounge around under the couch, certain there must be some old, partially eaten, mold-covered excuses I can use until I can get to the store and buy some more.

I’m a world class procrastinator, and when it comes to things I don’t like, I never fail to put off for decades what I can do today. But that just doesn’t fly when it comes to publishing.

I’ve written three books. One I’ve edited to the point where I’m now publishing it on Amazon. The other two are in draft mode. The picture you see at the top of this post is the first two pages of the second book I wrote (and finished–given the number of abandoned writing projects on my computer, it feels important to add that the the first drafts were completed). It is still in first draft status and has been for about seven months or so. I’ve red-penned the first twenty-six pages out of two hundred plus pages. I’ve got a ways to go.

I started editing this second book, “Dirt”, about four weeks ago. It was immediately after I finished the first draft of my third book. I was on a roll and didn’t want the mojo to vanish, didn’t want to slow the momentum [Scott looks around his desk for another tired metaphor and, failing to find one, moves on]. I wanted to continue on and prove to myself that I could conquer the Editing Beast.



The Editing Beast was definitely not a windmill. It broke my lance, killed my horse, and ripped through my armor to tear out my still-beating determination with its fearsome jaws. This sumbitch tore me apart.

I have done just about everything to avoid editing. There has been food, and running, and reading. There has been TV. Justified is back on (woohoo!) as is The Walking Dead (meh). I have discovered Longmire, the whole first season of which I took in like a python unhinging its jaw to swallow a goat. In short, I’ve done everything I can to avoid “Dirt”. And here’s the secret as to why [leans in to whisper]: I don’t like “Dirt”.

It’s true. I shake my head in disbelief at my own feelings about my own work, but it’s true. I don’t like it. “Dirt” is the most Stephen King-like thing I’ve ever written, long or short. It just had that sort of vibe to it. And I dig Stephen King. One hundred years from now, when people ask which author is the most remembered author of the twentith century, it will be Stephen King, just like it is Charles Dicken for the nineteenth century. He’s not writing high fiction, some of his stuff is (by his own admission) a “clunker”. But he tells a helluva story. When I was commuting 120 miles roundtrip every day for work (barefoot, through the snow, without a coat) I would listen to King on audiobook. Since his one goal for so long was to scare the crap out of you, he was great to take on long car rides. Guaranteed to keep you awake. King was one of the first adult authors I remember reading as I grew older.

So it naturally follows that a novel I’ve written with a King-esque feel to it would completely jazz me, right? Wrong. “Dirt” started off as a short story that couldn’t find an ending. The cast of characters grew and grew. Then the primary antagonist introduced himself and I stepped back and asked the book “Really? Is this REALLY where we’re going?” The book nodded emphatically and then dug its heels in as I tried to drag it acros the finish line like a dog going to the vet. It was a rock fight to get this thing done.

Now I’m staring down the editing barrel and asking myself how much do I really want to tackle it. There is so much work to do. Like, a dump truck’s worth of manure to shovel through to find a lost engagement ring. And I’m asking myself, how badly do I want to work on it. Especially since I have another book, my third, that I really did enjoy writing and that I’m looking forward to editing. I think I started doing some editing on “Dirt” because I knew I’d have to abandon it in March when I get to work on scrubbing the hard-boiled detective book. So if I didn’t get around to doing anything on “Dirt”, well does anybody really care?

Unfortunately, yes, I do care. I’m not happy with it, but do care quite a bit. I want to see it finished, I want to see it to completion. I want to see it improved and published and enjoyed. So it might be time to stop scouring the house for excuses, putting it off, and get down to some serious work. Which I’ll do.

I hearby make a solemn vow to stop procastinating over editing “Dirt” and to begin the serious work on getting it into publishable shape.

Right after I edit the other book.

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