Writer to Editor: A Metamorphosis

A few months ago, I finished the first draft of my second novel.

Yeah, super cool, right? I thought so, too.

Well here’s the thing about finishing a first draft: it’s a first draft. Meaning it needs to be edited. If you’re like me and don’t plan out each chapter of your novel before starting the writing process, it needs a lot of editing.

I feel like I should probably like editing more than I do, considering it’s at least a good 60% of my job, but I don’t. At all.

Like, I really, really hate it.

It is the part I consistently dread every time I write a new book. I know it’s important. It’s probably the most important stage. I would never dream of publishing an unedited book, but writers and editors are different creatures. If the writer is the caterpillar, the editor is the butterfly, and the manuscript? The chrysalis.

Ha, see how I just referenced my own metaphor in the title? See that? Go me.

But jokes aside, it’s true. The writer is the one with a vision. She sees a finished story in her mind’s eye and fervently scribbles it all down in a mad rush fueled by her own inspiration (and probably too much caffeine). The thing about writing with wild abandon, though, is that the results are unpolished. The framework’s there, but it’s not pretty, yet. It’s not complete. Just like a caterpillar.

Enter the editor. The editor wraps himself up in the story given to him by the writer. He makes it pretty. He makes all the words flow in the exact manner they should flow to get the writer’s message across. He dots all the i’s and crosses all the t’s. He pinpoints weaknesses in character and plot structure so they can be strengthened. He takes something rough and unpolished and turns it into something beautiful. He is the butterfly.

Or he turns the manuscript into a butterfly, but I’ve already said the manuscript is the chrysalis. It’s a metaphor. Don’t try to get too literal with it.

And so, my metamorphosis from writer to editor began. It was painful at first. I don’t know if it’s painful for a caterpillar to turn into a butterfly (note to self: Google that later), but learning how to be an editor was painful for me.

Luckily for me, I happened to have an editing course at my disposal from a lovely friend I made on Twitter, Victoria Griffin. I guess you could call her the butterfly, because everything I learned about shedding the skin of a writer and morphing into an editor came from her.

Her step-by-step walkthrough of the editing process didn’t necessarily make the editing itself easier, but it made the overall process less overwhelming. Less mysterious. More tangible to work with. She gave me all the tools and showed me how to use them, then set me loose on my own manuscript.

So have I become a butterfly, yet? I don’t think so. I’m still inside my chrysalis, but the wings are almost complete so…

Oh fine, I’ll drop the metaphor for a second.

I’m due to start line edits next week, so I’m slowly but surely crawling my way to a polished manuscript. With any luck, Wanderer should be in the final stages of publishing within a few months.

I don’t know if I like editing, yet. I don’t know if I ever will like editing. Maybe it’s something you either jive with or don’t, but I like not feeling completely lost. I like seeing progress, so hey, back to the metaphor:

My metamorphosis is nearly complete.

Wow. That sounded really badass. Go me.

Oh, and by the way, you should totally check out Victoria’s website and social media pages. Her blog is super funny. Way funnier than mine. Maybe. You be the judge and go check out her stuff.


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