In The Edit | 2146


Lack of copy editing is extremely transparent to a reader.
Editing on the other hand is invisible to the reader, but transparent to the writer

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In The Edit

Wooo boy. December. Can you believe it? I can’t You know, The other day someone said twenty twenty-fun to me in a zoom meeting. I nearly quit the call right there and then, Peppa Pig style.

So I did NaNoWriMo again this year. It’s a really important event in the creative calendar for me. I talked a little bit about why the other month in episode 2137 on my Dyslexia. I also talked about it in some detail last year in Episode 2044. Basically doing my first one back in 2013 taught me how to put one word after another. 

I’ll admit, it got in the way of the real world a bit this year. That NaNoWriMo can get in the way of paid writing at all is remarkable, a wonderful problem to have. As without it I wouldn’t be writing at all.

As ever Nano was an enormous undertaking, but I completed it. This year I ended up starting three separate stories that did nothing and went nowhere. For the first time I was writing in the first person which was fun. It happened because I’d been listening to a crime/noir audiobook at the end of October and just fell into the same style. Anyways, sometime soon I like to think I’ll write some fiction that’s worth returning to. For now it all just practice words.

I love getting to read my friends’ writing as it develops. Reading something new that they are working on and excited about. Half finished but definitely going places. Then a few months later a new version will arrive. Similar but different from the original, with new shape and polished edges. And that’s what I really wanted to talk about today. The Edit.

Obviously the graft of writing begins with the first word and continues until you get to the last one. But that’s just the first step. It’s just the generation of the raw material with which you have to work from. It’s like a clay or sculpting material. Sure it has some kind of shape, a substance but it’s certainly not finished. As you work it, that’s when the craft begins. 

This really is something I wish I’d understood when I was younger. But for various reasons it passed me by.

The more I write, the more I look forward to the edit. Finishing the draft is the warm up almost. It’s actually through making this podcast every week that I’ve come to appreciate the process of editing. 

The constraints of working within 5 mins and 1 second of spoken word means that I have a very specific word count. Usually between 960-75 words to fill the episode. If I include a list it’s more like a word count of 950 or some reason.

But I’m editing my own words to be read by me, I’m not sure if I could do it for someone else. But that’s besides the point. Once the initial script is done, the edit is my favourite part. 

I enjoy deleting things, moving ideas around, rephrasing sentences, and just generally you know sculpting text. 

I’ve been editing a piece all week that began life as 4.5k words of notes. I wrote everything I wanted to say down and then had to find the most important 2000. I haven’t ever cut a document in half before but it was a fun challenge. I had to drop threads and sub themes that were supportive rather than substantiative.

Teenage me would have died at the idea of doing all of this. That a finished piece of writing needs completely re-writing. But now in my 30’s, I’m happy to do it. It’s with the real editors now. I am looking forward to the feedback email when it arrives. Other people’s fresher eyes tend to find the main thread throughout a piece that everything needs to be hung around. Alternatively I may be told I need to be more direct and to cut a whole section belabouring a point i didn’t realise i was belabouring

The other day a friend was talking to me about the difference between editing and copy-editing. The former – to a musician like me, is more like the role of a producer. A co-pilot or guide who helps you get the best out of the material. Copy-editing however is the tedious process of removing all the stray commas, and tightening up the punctuation. Bad or a lack of copy editing is usually extremely transparent to a reader.

Editing on the other hand is invisible to the reader, but transparent to the writer. 

Editing (I think) is about how ideas are expressed, how they are developed and changed. And more importantly how do they conclude. It’s about making the idea clearer by the removal of superfluous texture.  

It’s probably my synesthesia and my grade 7 music theory talking but I have always got the sense that ideas explored throughout a text are like melodic threads in Baroque counterpoint.  It’s because my first introduction to thinking about ideas in-and-of-themselves in the abstract was from studying music. 

Ideas expressed in any medium are Interdependent lines that create chords, color and texture. Ideas need to interact tonally, rhythmically and come together in combination and recapitulation.All this however only comes together in the edit, rather than in the initial writing. You begin with the raw material, the raw text. Then develop the ideas over time and weave them together.

I mean I’m no expert. But each week I try to explore and improve my quote un quote voice and occasionally experiment with form and structure.

Which I why I’m making this episode without doing an edit.


The script above is the original script I wrote for the episode. It may differ from what ended up in the audio due to time constraints.

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3 responses to “In The Edit | 2146”

  1. […] part is just not being happy with the first draft. The effort required to re-write and fix the text in the edit outweighed by just starting again and working on something else. Dyslexic teenage me is horrified […]

  2. […] year I wrote about how I enjoy editing far more than I do writing. Unlike JDO I don’t see The Doing it as a performance. The Work is […]

  3. […] as it started life as 6k words worth of material (an hour long talk). Much satisfaction was found during the edit getting it down to 2k words for the magazine. Grateful for Ariel Kroon‘s editorial […]

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