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Writing 101: The Editing Month

I know that most people talk about the month of January as a month to start new things. Everyone wants to make resolutions to start fresh, or to begin new projects. To me, though - in a totally non-chronological way - January is the perfect editing month. Let's look at the year as it compares to writing a book: Spring - Everything is new. We're planting seeds and hoping that, with some tender loving care, great things will come from them. This is what it feels like when you first get your inspiration to write and you first put pen to paper (or pixels to screen), isn't it?

When you come to summer, if you've been putting in your work (and not just hoping that the rains will come and Mother Nature will take care of everything for you), you start to see what you've been working on take shape. Everything begins making sense. The days are long, and they give you the chance to expand and really get a feel for your work. Fall comes along and all of the colors change. The amount of work you've been putting in begins to result in richer hues. Your harvest (if we really want to belabor the metaphor) becomes tangible. You find you can share it with others and not feel embarrassed by it. As you come to the end of the writing "year" you get the holidays. That point in your writing where you feel like you've reached a conclusion point. A place to celebrate what you've done, to pat yourself on the back, to raise a glass, and to reflect.

Then you come to January. The celebrating is over. The candles get blown out. The lights come down. All of the relatives who have been piling the praise on you have left, and you're left in the dark. Just you and your manuscript, which you're beginning to realize may not be perfect. It may feel like the perfect time to curl up under a blanket and ignore the world for a while. But January is also - at least in the colder climates - one of the sunniest months of the year. (Frigid temps have to have some benefit, right?) And just ask any sports enthusiast and you can get a list of things to do outside (or in) during the month. You just have to know where to look.

Editing - which so many authors hate - is a lot like January. If you're open to it, once you get done celebrating the "completion" of your manuscript, that's when you get to enjoy taking a fresh look in the bright, clear light of the next stages of work. "January" - in this sense - is the time when you can get cozy under your blanket and read a good book - yours - while also taking the time to look at it again and try to figure out what it will be like to go back at it with the new ideas that spring will give you. January - it's not just for hibernation any more.

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