As I go through what I hope are the final edits of my novel, Postcards from the Desert, before the big proof read, I'm struck at how subjective editing and revising is. I've had several beta readers look at the manuscript and I've made changes along the way as I see things that need tightened, or cleaned up. I took their feedback to heart and made changes when necessary, or in some cases chose not to change something they suggested because it didn't feel right to me. I keep referring back to their notes when I get stuck or discouraged. Through this process I've become very aware of my inner perfectionist who needs this to be perfect and my inner critic who tells me if it's not perfect, I should give up. Revising is hard because there are an endless variety of options.
Some writers say it's like making a sculpture. You chip away at the clay until you get the piece you're looking for. As a photographer, I'd compare it to cropping a photograph. You change the subject of the photograph by removing the things that distract from it and displaying the things that compliment it. Revising a story is much the same way. It's in the revisions the theme and "moral" of the story begin to emerge.
I look at my first draft and see how I'm miles from that now. Almost everything was there, but it was surrounded by a lot of words that distracted from the subject.
Since I decided early on to self publish this novel, I don't have someone from a publishing house saying "Lose this character, or drop that subplot, or add another antagonist," so I ultimately have to make the decisions about where this is going. I like that freedom, but it's also scary as hell. What if I'm wrong?
Ah, my perfectionist! Always ready to assume the worst.