Falling in Love the Second Time
by Jan Powell
“Who is this who shines like the dawn—as beautiful as the moon, bright as the sun, awe-inspiring as an army with banners?”
Song of Songs 6:10 (HCSB)
First love grips us with the perfections of our beloved. We see every shining quality, every gracious word and action, and view our loved one like Solomon did his bride. We believe nothing can compare to such magnificence.
Our first drafts, especially those composed in the heat of brilliant inspiration, seem just like that. But we need to set aside that version for a time in order to see the manuscript’s quirks and warts. A few days or a week away opens our eyes to previously unseen imperfections.
It’s time to edit.
Unlike people we want to mold to fit our expectations, our manuscripts have no say in the surgery we perform to make them the vision of delight we imagined at the outset. We need to fall in love with our manuscript the second time around with our eyes wide open.
We’ve all met people who find out we write and say, “I’ve always wanted to write a book.”
We’re likely to respond, “Sounds good.” While we bite back a more direct remark, the reality check swirls in our thoughts. I’d like to design a house, perform surgery, or run a marathon. Probably just as simple. Minimal effort required.
Writers know incredible beauty peeks from the lines of our original creations, but word clutter and faulty structure veil our glorious images. Self-editing takes as much time, knowledge, and effort as any other professional skill. It’s not bursts of inspiration, but work.
And we can learn to love it.
The first draft is only the beginning. Every successful article, poem, short story, and book represents hours of rewriting. We need to keep a copy of the original to reread on discouraging days. Those early words will remind us how far we’ve come. So we manage our time, cut and paste, and delete and rewrite. And keep going. Real commitment, like solid relationships, means we invest time and energy, we listen to the advice of other writers, and we polish the words over and over that seemed flawless at first.
Then our manuscripts flourish, our writing muscles grow strong, and we deliver the refreshment and encouragement we intended from the start. So if you haven’t done this yet, embrace the season of editing, of deeper love for your work the second time around.
Father, help us follow inspiration with the discipline and grace of editing. Amen.
Jan Powell, a graduate of the University of South Florida has two small businesses. Through Writing with You, she offers writing services: editing, rewriting, coaching and ghost writing for fiction and non-fiction. She loves to help polish manuscripts for others. She has been published in The Wordsmith Journal and Splickety.