The pain of editing

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There is nothing I dread more than editing a manuscript.  The process is painful, although the result is bliss.  To make the decision to read your own hard – won words and then assassinate them is not an easy one.  Nearly every word of a manuscript is deliberated upon – sometimes for hours – until it takes its rightful place on the page.  Over days, and sometimes months, those words set roots.  They become familiar.  Reliable.  Then, the fateful day comes when you realize that those very words that have comforted you with their loyal monotony need to be cast away.  The process is more painstaking than the one that got them onto the page in the first place.  Is that word necessary?  Does it move the story along?  Is it too sentimental?  Too common?  What about all the words that it resides near?  Are they fit to stay or should they suffer an ugly end as well?  It’s hard to snip and cut and sever.  However, the end result, once the operation is over, is nothing short of cathartic.  Those words that have clung onto your page have been released.  In their place, they have left fresh, open spaces and possibilities for a reader’s imagination to fill in the blanks.  And, with those fresh, new spaces, the writer can breathe again.  Spring cleaning our manuscripts forces us to re-evaluate our product and forge ahead into unchartered territory.  It is simultaneously freeing and bittersweet.  And, utterly necessary.

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