Editing your Novel @ Link Wanderlust


I came across a blog post by Garth Greenwell, author of the novel What Belongs to You. In this post, he explores the tedious process of editing his own novel. He mentions that it took two whole months to complete the process.

It helped that he had a conscientious editor who sent him hand-written edits which he poured over for ten hours a day. The editor worked line by line, sometimes removing entire paragraphs.

I wasn’t sure I could make it better, and as we inched our way forward I felt I was losing my ability to make my own judgments, or my ability to see the manuscript at all. As I worked through each page I laid it face down, using the overleaf for rewrites, adding scraps and post-its as necessary. But slowly, revision came to feel more and more like composition, and the manuscript came to resemble the notebooks in which I wrote the first draft of the novel. The book, sections of which I had finished years before, became alive for me again.

The author would take a break from his obsessive editing to look at paintings in the museum nearby. When he went, he came across paintings by El Greco. What caught his attention was the imperfection of those paintings, the very reason that he was drawn to these painting. This leads him to think about editing in a different way. Would an editor who saw a slanted chair in an El Greco painting want to make it straight?

Perhaps these were the arguments of a lazy writer. However, it makes you think. How much do you edit your own work? Do you go to great pains for perfection or do you prefer crowdsourced perfection?




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