Editing – It’s a Dog’s Life

I underestimated the editing process. Big time! 

As a virgin editor, I’d imagined editing to be a leisurely cruise down the road in a vintage car – sunlight streaming through the windows and music that reflected my story and characters blasting out of the speakers. After two or three similar trips the editing would be completed and I’d be smug in the knowledge my manuscript was near perfection.

But no. It hasn’t been like that. Not even close.

The reality of editing has been more like a walk with my crazy, hyped up kelpie cross, Juno. It started with a sprint from the gate to the road with me hanging onto the lead for dear life. Then, an abrupt stop to check out a tree before racing off in another direction, only to circle back and check that same tree out again. How many times could I edit the same scene? Change a word here and there? More times than Juno could find places to pee, it would seem.

The pace settled down and, for a joyous moment, I appreciated the serenity of the bush where we live: the canvas for my story. Juno was behaving. All was good…

Until Juno stopped to do her business. Not a nice firm pile, but a messy loss of containment that tested my poop pickup skills with the black plastic bag. Are those poetic words of wisdom, flourishes of brilliance, adding to the storyline? Fleshing out the characters? 

No? Let’s cut them. 

Tears of grief trickled down my face for the clever pieces of prose, as I shoved them in the poop bag and dumped the waste into the bin.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, another dog appeared on the horizon. They seemed like the perfect companion to do a meet and greet. 

But no. 

Instant chaos: gnashing of teeth, growls and frantic barking.

My story wasn’t perfect. What???

The proof reader took my manuscript (after its fifth, beginning to end edit) and tore up some sections into tiny pieces, smeared other parts with tears and blood. Chewed on the very essence of my story. 

My bruised ego was left in tatters.

Juno and I turned towards home, our tails between our legs.

The beauty of a dog’s life, though, is each day is a new day. The past forgotten (sort of). So, the next morning we walked a different route. Smelled new trees and bushes. The blood was cleaned from the manuscript, redundant scenes added to the poop bag, fresh treats… I mean scenes, were created. 

This journey has been life changing in the best possible way. I had no idea editing would be even more fun than writing the first draft. Don’t get me wrong. It’s been a hard slog. But, as the scenes have evolved, my love for the characters has grown. The story gets better and better with every new edit.

When will it be ready?

Soon. God, I hope it will be soon. 

Meanwhile, I hit the laptop each day with the same enthusiasm I had when I started writing the story over twelve months ago. In fact, more enthusiasm. Like walking my dog, I never tire of it.

It’s my life. 

It’s who I am.

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