Edits, Doubt, Surgery, and Ever-Present Fear. Oh, and David Tennant.

Unless you want a blog that’s nothing but me sitting in a corner eating Ben & Jerry’s, I might be a bit sparse the next few weeks. You see, I got edits. Round 2 on THE ARCHIVED, to be exact.

My first reaction, as usual, was to climb into my pillow nest with my ice cream and my sense of fail, and rock back and forth, musing on my own level of suck.

Thankfully, that feeling passes…mostly because edits come with deadlines.

It’s an odd thing, editing. I wouldn’t say I’m afraid of it. Daunted, maybe, but not AFRAID. Not of the edits themselves.

I’m afraid of the self-doubt that comes with them, afraid it will calcify inside of me, spread until it paralyzes me from doing what I need to do.

I’m afraid of the ripple effect that comes with editing, the tipping of one, seemingly inconsequential domino that somehow knocks the whole book over.

I’m afraid of cutting it open, of taking scalpel to it. You know, doctors aren’t allowed to operate on loved ones. Why should authors be more fit? The answer is, of course, because we have to, because while editors can show us the tools and the places to cut, we have to go through with it, and probably because we can try things and mess up and our books won’t bleed to death on the table (though it feels like they will). But we can put things back, and unlike surgery, that part’s not clear before we start. Editors often show us the way in, but we have to find the way through and out.

I’m afraid that I’m not capable of making the book what it could be, what it needs to be, what I want it to be. Afraid that I’ll make it worse, or worse, that I will make it meh, that it will fall short.

I’m afraid I’m not good enough.

It’s like the art part of my brain wars with the math, the poet versus the problem-solver, one weeping while the other relishes the task, but neither happy at the same time. And the fact is, both have to be there, suffering and succeeding and fearing and trying. You can’t cast off the creator and become solely the surgeon. You would lose something inside the book, that something that is unquantifiable, that something in between. But you can’t ignore the surgeon for the sake of the creator, either. And you don’t want either side to simply be CONTENT.

The hardest thing is the DURING. Before the edits, you can make a plan, and after the edits, assuming you survive, you can collapse into a heap of relief and cookies, but DURING the edits, you need the pressure and the fear, the mercenery and the artist, both sides pushing and pulling and trying to keep the story stretched tight so it doesn’t all collapse. So it doesn’t bleed out while you’re poking and prodding and sawing off limbs and removing vital organs. It is…daunting.

I’m not afraid of the edits themselves, of the notes on the page.

I’m afraid of everything else.

So…if I seem sparse, that’s why. Feel free to send cookies, or videos like this one.

Beth Revis sent me this. It’s kind of the best thing ever, so I’m giving it to you.

12 thoughts on “Edits, Doubt, Surgery, and Ever-Present Fear. Oh, and David Tennant.

  1. I’ve never had to edit anything longer than a short story. I just finished my first NaNo though, so I see(dimly) that coming just beyond the horizon.

    You’re a brave soul. (you’re good enough, you’re strong enough, and ….sorry – Momentarily Possessed by Al Frankin)

    Thanks for this.(Lovely background, BTW)

    • veschwab says:

      Congrats on finishing!

      And editing with your own notes can be daunting enough. Editing with someone else’s, and to please others, is scary in a whole new way.

  2. “Iā€™m afraid of the self-doubt that comes with them, afraid it will calcify inside of me, spread until it paralyzes me from doing what I need to do.”

    You’ve given words to the terror that descends when that email hits my inbox. Having just finished a round of edits, I want to send you hugs and lots of confidence, but I know that’s something you can only find as you hash things out.

    So, instead I’ll send you this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qR3rK0kZFkg

    Better than anyone! Remember that! šŸ˜‰

    • veschwab says:


      I can't wait to be on the other side of these. In some ways, the territory becomes more familiar, without becoming easier, but the fear/self-doubt is always a bigger obstacle than the edits themselves.

  3. Claire says:

    You will be just fine, lovely. I know it’s scary, but you’ve taken the first step — acknowledging the fear, and acknowledging the need to work past it. I, for one, can’t WAIT to read THE ARCHIVED, in all its glory. šŸ™‚

    • veschwab says:

      I keep thinking it will get easier, and while the cutting a book open part doesn’t seem to, you DO learn to believe that you can survive it, by sheer virtue of experience and childish hope :p

  4. Pamela says:

    Powerful feelings, dear. Eloquent, emotional, raw, and beautiful words that make me feel your terror and fear and hope just as vividly as a reader can – and that gives me faith that this book will indeed be what you wish from it. You are so capable of vanquishing this monster. As scary as the endeavor might be, one day at a time it will all come together into something you will be very proud of.

    I have faith in you, V.

  5. Brodi Ashton says:

    Yep. Totally going through this right now. So glad I’m not the only one! And I love LOVE David Tennant. šŸ™‚

    • veschwab says:

      It’s amazing how often we fear we’re the only one feeling something–regardless of what we’re feeling. I can’t count how many times I’ve suspected everyone else has their stuff together, and I’m the only one freaking out/panicking/rocking in the corner.

      And Tennant = AUTOWIN.

  6. akossket says:

    I am on the clueless side of the line (when it comes to working with editors and such). However I fell in love with your writing.
    You did it once you can do it again. Be yourself, stay yourself, and imagine warm cookies waiting for you when you make it through this round of edits. šŸ™‚

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