Editing the Ego Out of Your Work, Part 1

Egos do not belong in the editing process. Ever.

If you are editing your own work, the process is cold and calculating. You (and I) must be willing to sacrifice every sacred word on the altar. If we as writers didn't make the baby bleed, we've failed in our jobs. The most important thing the author can do is to make the reader forget that the writer exists. Your ego (and mine) must die for the story to live.

The same goes for editing the work of others. Your ego (and mine) have nothing to do with the refining of someone's story. Again, it is a cold process, more analytical than creative. Treat it like a mathematical equation, and leave your heart and personal preferences out of it.

I have met two types of writers in the world: those that sacrifice to learn the trade and those that refuse to learn from anyone. I've come to the conclusion that the submission process to find a publisher is designed to weed out those that are unwilling to submit to the learning process. After all, if you can't write a query letter to industry standards, how are you going to write a quality manuscript?

Recently, I was involved in a group anthology. I submitted a 5K story. It took me a week to write and a week to edit before I sent it out. Then I humbled myself to listen to the critiques of my editors. I had four people read it, two of which felt there were major plot holes, and I had to go back and beef up the story.

Then it went through another round of edits for word tweaking. I didn't fight my editors. I let them tear me apart, and I listened and learned from their advice.

As a dear friend said, if you want to be a writer, "Pay your dues!"

4 comments:

  1. First, love the new blog. Very nice.

    Second, well said. Ego does nothing for a writer. Ego makes things difficult and in the end only makes us look like idiots when we are still sitting with our 'brilliant' thumbs up our ass while our manuscript is refused over and over and over...

    You get what I mean.

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  2. That was a very vivid picture, Renee. I wouldn't want that to be me.

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  3. Thank you for those words of advice. It's so true. We take words of critique personally, like the editor KNEW how much time we put into the story and set about to rip our guts out, out of spite.

    In fact, if we were to edit my own work, after a couple of months to forget, I'd likely do the same repairing. Like having your car fixed. It's technical. But not too many people get emotionally distraught when the mechanic says "Your gonna need a new car battery" or "The carbourator's shot!"

    Much appreciated. I must remember this when I'm being edited.

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  4. All I can add to the entry and Renee's comment is
    'Amen.'

    I've seen literally tons of the letters that come pouring back in when the edits and comments are returned on manuscripts.

    My favourite is the one that replied with three little words.

    "You hate me."

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