Saturday, May 22, 2010

Editing is like house work.....

How so, you ask? glad you did.

Firstly, I love a clean kitchen. I like a clear bench. I like my pantry organsied and I despise finding old, rotting food in my refrigerator. Why people put the almost empty milk bottle back in there, I do not understand.

In the house we built in Auckland, I have a wonderfully large kitchen. It is my dream kitchen. Here, in Dunedin, our house is over 100 years old and the kitchen has little storage or bench area. Before I begin cooking, I need my kitchen cleaned and all the ingredients to hand.

I like vacuuming. I have a new machine and I love how it scoops up all the dust and fur from the dogs.

I hate cleaning the shower, the toilets, the bathrooms, dusting, folding washing, mowing the lawns, weeding, making the bed, tidying my room but my bookshelves are in perfect alphabetical order.

I'm a clean and neat freak and I hate mess and I feel so much better when my house is clean (usually because of the hubby - bless him!)

I don't have a house cleaner - have had in the past but I figure if I've got two able bodied teenagers, I can pass on some of the work. Thankfully, they hate unstacking the dishwasher and keeping the kitchen clean.

Now, applying the above to editing....

The kitchen, for me, is the engine room. It's the main part of family life. Where I write and the environs are essential for me to get stuck into the hard bitzy work of editing: I need to have dealt with all the small stuff (emails, blogs, facebook *grin*) and I need to have all my books and notes and printouts to hand. I am distracted if I don't start with a 'clean bench'. The business of keeping the kitchen up to scratch (and the cupboards filled with food) is my job – just as the actual task of making the story be the best, is my responsibility. I think I’m good at both.

However, I'm not methodical when it comes to the cleaning up of my manuscript. I might come across a tricky question by the editor. One that requires a bit of thought and maybe some research. I tend to leave those bits and go looking for edits I know I will enjoy fixing.

Then there are the annoying overwritten parts (like dusting, the weeds in my garden and the lawns which always need mowing). I HATE that part of the editing process. It's like, you get through the entire manuscript and come back to the start and you find more to do - more words which clang; more typos (how did you miss those?); more continuity problems.

However, I do have a great agent, a great publisher (with her keen team) and a couple of readers who pick away at the parts I miss. Although, with this latest feedback, it felt like Josh, Vicki and Kate had gone around my house with white gloves on and came back to me with filthy evidence of my poor skills.

They were impressed with my kitchen, but.

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