For a long time, I’ve thought of editing and rewriting as the same thing. Perhaps that’s because, for all the papers I’ve ever written, it has been the same thing. I’ve never scrapped a paper entirely, I’ve never said oh, that whole page has to be rewritten. And so rewriting and editing has been one thing.
But as I am delving deeper into the process of editing (and rewriting) my manuscript, I see that they are very different things. This realization came about when I showed my mom a page of my “editing” and she made an exclamation along the lines of “Oh my gosh – that’s not EDITING!” I was shocked. What did she mean I wasn’t editing? I let it go, tried to ignore it. And then I knew.
When I’m editing, I feel like a surgeon. I cut into the story, taking out what shouldn’t be there and adding what makes it work better. When I rewrite, I am a butcher, mercilessly chopping away what I don’t need to get at what is important. It’s a big difference.
To give you a visual, here are two examples:
Clearly the first is editing, and the second is rewriting! These are both very typical of my process (and yes – I do always edit on a hard copy – I even start by handwriting my very first draft, but more on that another time). I can’t imagine editing without rewriting, or rewriting without editing. For me, they go together. Maybe once I get through this draft, and have the plot and structure sewn up tight I will experience editing without having to rewrite. But to be honest, I’ve never been that far. I’ve never been THIS far. It’s a big step for me, and this realization that rewriting and editing are not the same thing is huge. It means that this story, what I’ve got now, is THE story, and no matter how much I edit it now, or even rewrite it, it’s still the same story. And I love it.
Take care, fellow travelers.