The Big Edit…. and How I Survived!

My Novel

I started my book in 2007, whilst I was doing my Creative Writing degree, and writing Harry Potter fanfiction!

I graduated in 2010, with a 2:1.

I submitted my book to agents 2015, and this was also the year that I joined the #amwriting community on Twitter.

I was accepted into Golden Egg 2016 and have been in the academy since then, working hard on editing my manuscript, and learning all the tools that I need to become traditionally published.

Yesterday, 2021, I submitted a very important edit, probably the most important edit that I have done in years.

Why…. because it will be the decider.

It will be the pivotal moment, the moment whether the academy believes that I’ve done enough, and learnt enough, in order to move on to the final stage, before approaching agents once again.

As I have been at one stage for three years now, I am anxious, no, I am terrified….. and if I haven’t managed to get there this time, I am definitely taking a break for a week or so, before I dive in and try harder.

What this edit has taught me, more than any of them before, is not only how to write well, but how to write healthily. For years, I would write myself into the ground, because I thought that was the way you got there. I thought that this dedication, this sheer lunacy was the right way to go about getting that dream.

I was wrong.

I went from writing and editing for ten hours, maybe more, to only doing a five hour stretch. Honestly, it feels just as intense because it’s not a first, second or even third draft, this is the big edit; the one that could make all the difference to your book, so, there was no time for mediocrity, and there was no time for anything more than five hours. It would have been a disservice to the book.

My editor has supported me all through this edit, but as a guide, nothing more; and those are the best editors. They don’t say what should be in your book, they just offer you a helping hand and bring out the best that you can be.

That’s not to say that there weren’t a few struggles along the way! There was a point where I had reached a burn out, and needed to rest but was on a deadline. I call it ‘writer’s stitch’ now, and the best way to push through and carry on is to do just that! During this time however, I did other things, puzzles, crosswords, watched Riverdale, and read.

I didn’t read as much as I should have done, but I will blame the wonderful twitter community for that…… and really, I was supporting other writers, and boosting my account too, so it’s better than just lazing around, but I am going to read more again soon.

When I was writing and editing the book, I couldn’t be interrupted – if I was – I temporarily became like Jack from The Shining (just with my eyes, no killing involved don’t worry) but that is how seriously I take this, and how much I want it, and how much I will do in order to reach it.

It has been harder admittedly with my ADD, because I don’t often view things as logically as everyone else?

My continuity had to be checked, checked and rechecked, and then at the end, the weather, objects, clothes, just making sure everything fitted and made sense. I thought about unanswered world building questions – and managed to squeeze most important things into the book, and hopefully not through a spoon feeding way, through other narrative forms such as letters or speech that was realistic and not info dumping.

In order to write a book well, you have to be ready to edit, edit, edit, edit, edit, edit, edit and over and over and over again. You need to face the fact that the phrase killing your darlings was not made for no reason, and that sometimes a whole chapter that you thought was absolutely just wonderful………. needs to go.

I probably cut around 3,000 – 5,000 words in this edit, and I remember where I was and what I was doing in each one. It feels like burying someone, but it’s words instead….. although for me, I view it as a kind of resurrection, because you are only getting rid of the worst, and replacing it with something that’s even better.

You have to carve out time after hours. I would edit on my ipad two hours after finishing for the day. I would wake up at 5am and write down notes for an hour. I would come up with something in the most annoyingly unfortunate of places, like the bath for example! You need to be so into your book that any unanswered questions must be addressed and added in…..

I colour coded my book in themes.

I would really recommend this, as it helps you determine what you’ve done and how much you’ve been able to include them. Thankfully, my edit showed a lot of colour on the pages, which (hopefully means) that I was able to show all the themes well.

Anyway, I think I’ve rambled enough, but please, if you like what you’ve read, feel free to sign up to my blog!

Happy writing all

See you (Most of you) on Twitter!

Rachel xxxxxxx

3 thoughts on “The Big Edit…. and How I Survived!

  1. Interesting story, Rachel. And I’ve personally enjoyed seeing your journey and how you’ve progressed, both personally and professionally. I do hope you have good news on your manuscript!

  2. I went through a similar process working with an agent on Just Bea. After several submissions and editorial comments the novel was transformed. It took nearly 2 years but I learnt so much from the process. Good luck with your submission. I hope that soon you will get the news you are waiting for.

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