The Dog Ate My Manuscript

Never in my life have I used the excuse, “the dog ate my homework”. Have I been tempted to? Yes, of course! I’ve just never actually had the guts to say it (whether it be for fear of lying to my teachers–or more likely, not wanting to portray my sweet pup in a poor light).

That all changed when I began editing my middle grade novel.

Now, I am more than happy to command, “Chow down, Rizzo!” I begged. I pleaded. “Please eat my manuscript, Rizzo. Get it out of my sight!” As you can see, he seems to be asking my permission to do just that, right?

If I’m lucky, my dog just might eat my homework!

“You want me to eat ALL of this?”

He didn’t try to take a nibble… he didn’t even attempt to sniff it! Perhaps I’m imagining all this because I’m hoping that he’ll eat it and then I won’t have to keep “tightening up” my novel!

One thing is for sure–this editing thing is hard!

No matter when or how you choose to do it, editing is never an easy step of the writing process. I’ve been told many times that I should just “let the words flow” when I first sit down to write. “Don’t worry about grammar, wording, or typos,” they say. By the way, who are they… and how come they know so much about my writing habits/needs/practices?

I digress.

Anyway, I’ve never been relaxed enough to just completely let words flow. I think that a person’s writing style matches their personality quirks. For example, I tend to be a teensy bit too uptight to just ‘let-er-rip’ when it comes to my writing. As with most things in my life, I’m always trying to get done today, that which could truly be done tomorrow. Then–when I do start writing–there inevitably seems to be ebbs in the “flow” of my words as I hop back to add a comma or change a character’s comment. On occasion, it even feels as though my characters are telling me to do this.

Essentially, I guess the proverbial ‘they‘ have gotten into my head, but my intrinsic need to to “fix things on-the-spot” prevails in the end. Thus, no matter how hard I try, I always unconsciously perform edits as I go. Funny thing is: even with constantly overthinking each word and contemplating every little detail of a sentence, it still doesn’t make the revision process any easier or quicker. No matter how strategically you approach the editing step, there only seems to be one consistent outcome…

Revise, revise and edit once more!

P.S. – Rizzo never did eat the manuscript. I edited it. It was painful, and it took quite awhile–but you know what? Looking back, I am so grateful for process. It was all worth it!

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