You know that feeling when you know that you’re hours from the finish line of a major project, one that has both elated you and sapped your energy, inspired you and caused you to struggle, utterly challenged you in the best of ways and the worst of ways?
That’s what I’m feeling today, and that’s what’s inspiring me at the moment.
I’ve seen almost nothing but Microsoft Word these past few days, zeroing in on the final round of edits for a client. It’s a nonfiction manuscript, which I always enjoy. It is fascinating to gain expertise on a new topic, and yet intense and time-consuming as every fact or figure or nomenclature must be double and triple checked for accuracy and consistency.
Editing is this weird offshoot of creativity. To the outside world, it would at first appear to be merely applying rules of spelling and grammar—the sort of proofreading or daily grammar activity of mornings in late elementary school. But it’s not at all.
As an editor, I become part chameleon content creator, part translator, part puzzler, part teacher, part mentor, and always wholly invested in the project in front of me.
Some days, I’m assisting with word selection and paragraphing to elevate the content, or writing up transitions (particularly with newer writers), seeking to emulate the author’s voice as best as possible.
Some days, I’m asking questions and seeking clarification where I worry a reader may not understand exactly what it is that the author wishes to say. (It’s always hard to edit our own work, because we’re in our heads! One of the most difficult things for a writer is identifying what hasn’t been written down, but is an integral part to understanding the story.)
Other days I’m moving entire chunks of the manuscript around, weaving together an overarching story with peaks and valleys and twists and turns, that compels the reader to move forward.
And then there are the days that I’m encouraging the author, answering questions about the publishing process, challenging them to take their writing a step further, or… even… going back and forth about the best way to lay out the ideas behind the story, a struggle to determine the best way to honor the author’s vision, while ensuring the reader will understand the story and remain engaged.
Along the way, I always respect that the story belongs to the author, but by the time I take on a project, I’m invested. That means I’ll fight for what the story needs, even when met with initial resistance, but ultimately support the author’s final decision.
It’s a totally different process from writing, and I love it.
Most of the time.
Inevitably, though, as with any creative profession or endeavor, there are days of doubt.
Am I changing this too drastically? Is this edit necessary, or am I trying to impose my own style? Did I break it? Will I ever finish? Will it find its audience, and will they appreciate what the author has shared?
Even though the stories that I edit for clients are not mine, I feel a bond and a kinship to the story. And at the same time, I am thrilled to set it free, release it back to its creator, and bid it good bye and good luck.
Finishing brings a sense of accomplishment. It allows me to move forward, to open my mind and my heart to the next project and creative endeavor.
The photo I shared at the top of this post was this project that I’m just wrapping up, a few weeks back when I first started working on it. I always print out a client’s manuscript first and sink into it with pen and paper. I flipped it over to protect the author’s privacy, but you can see my writing and scribble marks indented though the page, identifying questions and clarifications needed, making line edits, and scribbling out transitions or movements as needed.
Today, I peeked at the original manuscript, as I was preparing to send a near final draft to my client, and feeling a little bit in awe of what we’d accomplished over these past few weeks. It’s come a long way.
And it’s almost ready to take those next steps out into the “real” world.
That is my sense of wonder and inspiration for today. The prodding of an idea, ready to share, and the joy of completion in the immediate future.
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Of Love + Light is a place for uplifting media, creative inspiration, art, nifty creative publications, and storytelling. I also offer editing, creativity coaching, and small business communications planning services. Founded by Alana Garrigues, Of Love + Light is your place to come, relax, feel inspired and loved, and share more of what’s good on this beautiful planet.
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“The Joy of Finishing Things” was posted as part of the Daily Dose: Inspired series.
Daily Dose: Inspired… Looking for a small something to get you inspired to take on the day? This is the place to come for a photo, a song, a pick-me-up quote, a little slice of happy. At least, these are the things that inspire me!