Must…not…edit… – okay, maybe just a little.

Since finishing the first draft of the manuscript last week, I’ve been finding it very difficult to keep my hands off of it and not start editing the hell out of it. I know that you are supposed to let a draft ‘rest’ for a time, but I’ve never been very good at that – often I edit earlier sections before the first draft is even done. The only reason I didn’t really do that this time was because I was so desperate to get the draft finished before going into labour. Letting this draft rest is a good idea. First, my brain can subconsciously work on some of those content issues that I know are lingering in there. Second, Kid 1 is on March Break so how much time could I actually devote to it this week? And third, how far am I really going to get before I have no choice but to shelve it for a while?

Oh, I also have a copy of a friend’s first draft and I really owe her some editorial commentary…

So yes, shelving it for a while is clearly the best plan.

At the same time, though…

My husband suggested that perhaps I just look at the first three chapters, if I’m that desperate. After all, that’s usually all an agent or editor wants right away. I resisted this at first – the interested party I have wanted the whole thing when it was done. I did consider the idea though, since there’s a possibility that that won’t pan out and I’ll have to go elsewhere. So, just out of curiousity, I popped open the first three chapters. Β At which point I made a rather surprising discovery: the first three chapters wound up being SIXTY-ONE pages (of a 256 page, 22 chapter whole).

Excuse me?

Upon further investigation I found that Chapter 1 is about 4 000 words. Fine.

Chapter 2 is 12 000 words.

Chapter 3 is 10 000 words.

Oops. So yes…if I do find a chance to put in any work on it this week, apparently my first task will be determining where the first three chapters actually should be and maybe then putting in a bit of editing time on those.

Critique Class continues to go well…I’ve now also had my short piece reviewed and once again received very positive feedback. This was a 900 word piece that I read aloud to my smaller group, none of whom had heard it or seen it before (unlike the long piece which was emailed a week in advance to the entire class). A couple of people even told me that they liked it better than the longer piece! So I came away feeling very happy (and validated!) once again. Prepping this short piece also at least allowed me to do a tiny bit of editing, which helped my twitchiness about it. Now I’m off the hook until the second half of the class, as far as presenting my own writing is concerned.

Prep for baby 2 continues at a pretty frantic pace. I’m feeling (marginally) less panicky now that the nursery is painted and we’ve bought most of the things we’ll need for the baby and the hospital stay. Eleven days…crazy. I don’t quite believe sometime in the next two weeks I’m going to have two kids!

14 thoughts on “Must…not…edit… – okay, maybe just a little.

  1. Nice update Em! Hope you take some time to enjoy being the mom of a single child before #2 arrives. Keep smiling and may baby #2 be a wonderful addition to your family!

  2. Em, why do you think I always have so many projects on the go at once? I finish the current stage of one project, then switch to something else to keep myself busy and away from the first one. I know I’m incapable of resisting the desire to edit immediately any other way. That said, I totally understand how the inner editor makes you twitchy. Mine’s demanding I go through book 2 again, even though I just finished editing it on Monday. 😦 Oh well, there’s still the outline for book 3 to wrap up (almost there now).

    I would definitely suggest breaking up those first 3 chapters into, well, at least 6 when you do go back to edit. I’ve had to do that a few times, split chapters, especially lately. It can work out for the best though.


    • Well, the brain-fog is already starting to descend, so that will probably keep me away from the majority of it for the next while. I think the most I’ll do is maybe reread those first “three chapters” (60 pages) and maybe make some notes and see where I can do some more sensible chapter breaks. Then I can look at it more seriously when my brain is a little more “there”.

      And I’ll definitely have something to keep me busy and away from the editing soon. It’s just a few days (ack) between now and then!

    • Exactly! How can I let it just sit there when I could be doing all of this work on it?

      But I’m going to try to be strong.

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. What writing course are you taking, out of curiosity?
    we’ve met πŸ™‚ You are my sister’s next-door neighbour! Congrats on baby #2 on the way…

    • I remember you! πŸ™‚

      I’m taking the current Brian Henry course here. I took the last two terms with him (both of which were Exploring Creative Writing) and this one is called The Next Step and he has modelled it on his Intensive/Extreme CW courses.

      He’s a brilliant writing teacher and does courses and workshops all over Ontario. (his blog is at


  4. Hehee, congratulations first of all on second child! Its amazing that you’re so calm with only 11 (8 by now?) days to go!
    I encounter the same problem with editing, it takes more effort that I realised I had in me to stop myself going back to look over something. Though saying that, I have a piece that its probably safe to go back to now. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks! 6 days now…and I don’t know that ‘calm’ is exactly the right word, but great if I’m managing to come across that way.

      If you have a piece to go back to, do it! That might be handy in keeping you from jumping right into something you’ve just completed.

      And thanks for the comment!

  5. This is a wonderful thing. And while you’re making another baby as well. Growing a central nervous system and a plot at the same time. That’s impressive.

    • Haha thanks! Last week I had someone ask me we were naming the baby ‘x’…and while x is not the name we’ve chosen, it IS the name of one of my main characters, which I found funny.

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