Wednesday 23 February 2011

Tweaking overkill

I was talking to a colleague yesterday evening about a chapter she has just finished writing for a book. She’s spent several weeks on this and then in a final edit had to cut down by 2000 words. She now wonders whether she has over edited and whether her chapter still makes sense.
I can relate to this. I have three non-fiction projects on the go at the moment and all of them are in the process of being murdered. One is running at almost 7000 words and more likely should be a chapter in a book rather than the paper for an academic journal I’m seeing it as. The first draft will probably be finished today. I’ll certainly share it with the students on one of my modules. I fear, though, with the inevitable editing I’ll have to do I may lose the spirit of the thing.
Another piece is a paper that is accepted for an academic journal but for which the editors are requiring yet further editing. I’m losing sight of this one and anyway things have moved for me personally since I wrote this. I keep coming back to the title that I’m rather pleased about and remember that the journal that has all but accepted it has quite some status in my world.
A third piece is a very short chapter for a handbook for creative writing teachers in higher education. I’m using an article the editor has written as a template. I understand what I’ve written, but will the reader? I think it’s ready to go but want to keep fiddling.
In a recently accepted article, I cut it back so much that it started to lose sense and then when I tidied it up I made some mistakes. There were some very harsh comments form one of the editors. They may have been more forgiving of a wrong word length.
We have to learn to let go. Our inner editor is sometimes too active. Resting an article is often helpful. Come back to it with fresh eyes later and even if it’s only a short time since the article was finished, one has probably moved on as a writer.

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