She's So Write: Editing -- The Author’s Test of Sanity

When people imagine being a writer, they often have visions of an idyllic scene in which we nurture our muse, steaming cup of coffee at our elbow, surrounded by quiet and maybe a few birds chirping.

I guess this may be true for some writers, and I’ll admit that I have had my moments, but the more common reality is that we work at a desk covered by mountains of papers, balancing our tepid coffee atop the stack of school forms, bills, and catalogs we’ve been meaning to get to, praying that the cat doesn’t delete all of our work as he tramples across the keyboard in his quest for attention.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love being an author, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But there are some realities that we all must accept—and learn to embrace—in order to save our sanity and turn out quality work.

The editing, for example. I’m fairly certain that being a writer is one of the only careers in which you could literally spend the greater portion of a week deciding if you want to say The Joneses or The Joneses’, which is exactly what I did in creating the official definition for the word Momnesia in my recent novel:

Momnesia (mahm-nee-zhuh) -noun-
Loss of the memory of who you used to be. Caused by pregnancy, play dates, and trying to keep the house cleaner than the Joneses.

“What should I do (or not do) with the apostrophe at the end of Joneses?” I dissected, with the help of my online writing group. Do I want it to mean cleaner than the Joneses house is, or cleaner than the Joneses keep up with their house? And in the end, would having the apostrophe there be more of a distraction for the reader? If so, is it worth the distraction for the small nuance of having it mean cleaner than the Joneses keep up with their house?

This is only one example. The editing goes on and on! You need to decide whether or not you alwayshave to say “whether or not,” or whether you can sometimes just say “whether”; Which section to chop out because you know it’s redundant, but you love it because you have a beautifully crafted paragraph in there that you worked on for two days.

“Isn’t that what you have an editor for?” you may ask. Yes and no. The truth is, you need to turn in clean work if you expect to have your work published (anywhere!) in the first place. And unless your editor is being paid a zillion dollars to practically rewrite all of your work, these things need to be ironed out ahead of time.

“But you still love being a writer, right?” Write! I mean right. The Type-A part of me is actually okay with having to sort out these details, and it does give me great pride in my work, despite its ability to make my head spin.

What about you? How do you feel about the editing aspect of writing, whether it be an email, an article, or a book? I look forward to your comments!

Lori Verni-Fogarsi has been a freelance writer, journalist, columnist, and seminar speaker for over fifteen years. She is the author of the novel, Momnesia, contemporary women's fiction,  as well as the nonfiction book, Everything You Need to Know About House Training Puppies and Adult Dogs. Lori is a happily married mom of two, step mom of two more, and has two cats, both rotten. Originally a native New Yorker, she now divides her time between Raleigh, NC, and Lake Gaston, VA, where she is hard at work on her next novel. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, boating, traveling with her husband, napping, and attending her children's many activities. Lori invites you to learn more at her website and enjoy her active communities on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!