"I want to write a book, how hard can it be!"
So you type and type and drink more coffee and eat more chocolate and in your complete caffeine and sugar fueled state, you churn out fifty thousand words like butter. To you, they sound like literary genius, how could anyone fault your impeccable wordcraft and ability to tell a fantastic tale with more twists and turns than a formula 1 racing circuit.
No one tells you (well actually they do, but you refuse to listen) that editing is the hard part - beware! You find someone you trust enough to show your writing to and you receive back a document covered in red comment boxes. Your confidence takes a nosedive and you throw your precious manuscript in the dustbin.
After a week or so, those dusty bits of paper lying dormant in the bin starting calling to you. So you pull them out and courageously start to read.
Spelling, grammar and punctuation corrections swim through your work like hungry piranhas. Not to mention the plot holes, clunky sentence structure and the completely confused timeline you have created.
And so begins the editing process. Going through each sentence, line by line thinking how could it be better? Does it add to the story or can I cut it completely? You spend hours pouring over words, phrases, sentences and paragraphs trying to find the right way to say something. It might take weeks to get through one chapter.
While editing has been one of the most challenging parts of this experience so far, it has also been one of the most rewarding. There is nothing like the rush of having a critique person, known for their acute attention to detail and impeccable knowledge of grammar saying that a particular chapter is "stunning" and they didn't make a lot of notes because the story was so engaging that they just got lost in the story.
So some sage advice from one newbie writer to another; don't be afraid of the edit, but don't expect to have everyone that critiques your work fawn all over you as if you were the next J.K. Rowling. Editing is a very long and often difficult process and if you don't break it down, it will swallow you whole.
So what has all this got to do with elephants?
Well, how do you eat one?
A lot like editing, one bite at a time...