Firstly, please pardon the Led Zeppelin pun that i have employed as a title for this post. Musicians do strange things sometimes.. and this title reflects precisely how i feel at this time.
Editing is a like a battle.. a struggle between author and thesis.
Just when I, the author, feel as though I have made a breakthrough in the process of editing my work – perhaps condensing a section down by 1, 2, or even 3 hundred words – I read over the edited work again and it smiles grimly back at me, firing a missile to the eyes. Things just don’t make as much sense anymore.. Sometimes the edited work looks outright mutilated..
I look to the “trash” section, where passages that I have removed from the page have been relegated: where wounded servants of mine lay. It is as if the words that I have deemed inferior are looking up at me, bleeding and pleading from a muddy trench, hoping to be reinstated to where they feel that they belong:
“How could you sacrifice your own men? We fought for you! We thought you held us dear!”
And I can’t help but sympathise with them..
I think of the memories I shared with these fine warriors of academia – the places we were first acquainted.. Sometimes the attachments an author has with his/her words are hard to ignore. You feel like you’ll do anything so as not to leave them behind.
Take for instance the productive 3 hour writing sessions at a peaceful coffee shop, guzzling lattes that put hairs on my otherwise rather bare chest. Or the three days I spent in lockdown at Steve’s art studio, churning out more words than i knew i had in my vocabulary. Groundbreaking or no.. I am astounded as to how such extraneous influences actually make you feel a certain connection to work that has been done. How can a place, a feeling, or an enjoyable meal/ beverage make you feel more closely connected to a series of words??
Surely, when I look over my work, knowing that many thousands of words need to be erased in order to meet the necessary submission guidelines, it should be plain to see what is irrelevant and needs to go?
After emailing my supervisor in a panic yesterday, I have been reassured that this is not really the case – editing your own work is HARD. But on the plus side, as my supervisor mentioned:
“You’ll have loads of quality stuff leftover that can be used should you decide to publish in journals…”
In the Battle of Editmore, I am reminded of all the books, the readings, the documentaries, the metaphors and the moments of bliss I felt when I finally made sense of those peculiar concepts I had been struggling with..
However, while the shift from writer to reader is not an easy one, it is one that needs to be made. And in the interest of giving myself the best chance of doing well in my Honours Submission – I need to move past the personal ties that I have with my words fairly quickly, and try and edit with the discipline and dedication of a major general.