Running away from the cuts

I never used to run. Hated it, in fact. I could go on but that vile little word sums it up. In a previous life (before children) I was a gym bunny, exercising inside with a calorie counter and air conditioning.

Roll on five years and I’m almost evangelical about running, but this transition was not one born from choice. You see, I have a three-year-old. He’s gorgeous, with the energy of a young border collie, and requires the same amount of exercise. He began to run the same week he began to walk and hasn’t stopped since. And, as I don’t want him to run into the road/off a cliff/into a ditch, I give chase. Far and fast. I have become a runner.

I also used to hate editing. Mainly because I was clueless, partly because I was reluctant to cut and smidgenley because I harboured a vague hope of turning out to be a creative genius who need never cut. (Good news, everybody; there is no such thing as a creative genius who doesn’t require editing. Even Le Carre gets cuts. (And just writing that sentence has reminded me of how much I love Le Carre.))

I literally just wrote that last line so I could use a double bracket. Benefits of writing my own blog: I get to choose the edits.


What I have discovered recently is a love for editing.

I received the first of my agent’s track edits this week. It took me three days to muster the courage to open the file, imagining pages of scored through narrative, hundreds of notes on how I can, and must, do better. I imagined my prose, my agonized-over prose, criticised in cold, honest red pen.

Guess what…

That’s exactly what I received.

What I didn’t count on was my reaction. The main reason I waited three days was the fear I’d get downhearted, or worse, defeated, by the sheer amount of work still to do. Instead, my eyes were opened, super wide. Those scrawled through lines of text showed me how much tighter my work can become, the notes in the margin caught a glimpse of how good this book could (will) be.

The world looks different as I run through it, especially when guided by the kamikaze nature of a three-year-old. And my writing looks different thanks to the guidance of a bloody good editor, and the realisation that I’m a little more fearless than I thought.


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