Maybe I Should Have Been An Editor

Well, my New Year’s Resolution to blog every week is officially dead. Lasted longer than I thought. RIP 1/1/2020 – 2/6/2020.

But enough of that, I’m back after a month long mental health break and ready to make an ass of myself by talking about something I have very little knowledge of.

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Admit it: you heard it in their voices.

Sometimes, when I’m laboring away over my WIP, but even more often when I’m reading, I wonder if maybe I should have been an editor, rather than a writer.

My writing “career” is young, and largely shaped thus far by fanfiction, but last year I learned how much I enjoy the editing part of writing (and I say that doubting my own understanding of the term “editing”). My favoritest favorite part? Brutal, merciless cuts.

I adore crossing out entire sentences. I love circling paragraphs and jotting in the margins “Is this necessary?” Though I haven’t gotten to this point in revision yet, I already have a handful of scenes in mind that are destined for the axe. And I’m excited.

This mindset, perhaps to my detriment, doesn’t go away when I’m not writing, however. In fact, it seems even more pronounced when I’m consuming other media. I’m going to give you an example.

Warning! Hot takes incoming!

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Spicy

In November, in the throes of NaNoWriMo, I, like many other nerds across the country, sat down after work on a Tuesday evening and watched the premiere episode of Disney’s new Star Wars TV show, the Mandalorian. Spoiler… warning?

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I mean if you don’t know by now…

About 30 minutes into the episode I remember saying to my partner, “I’m assuming ‘The Asset’ is interesting and important, because otherwise why would I care about this show?”

Turns out, I was right. Baby Yoda, and the conflict it created in the narrative, was what made the show worth watching. Not the titular Mandalorian (at least not him by himself). So, though I found 99% of episode one to be kinda (read: really) dry, I sat down the following Friday for episode two.

Friends. Fellow Star Wars fans. I’m sorry. I hate to be the one to tell you this.

Episode two was a complete waste of time. 30 minutes of pure, unadulterated filler. Filler content. In the second episode. Of an eight episode series.

The more I thought about what I had seen over the course of two episodes, the more dissatisfied I felt. TV is one of my favorite mediums, and Star Wars is a franchise I genuinely love and enjoy (though I wouldn’t pass standard gatekeeping tests), but this series was falling well short of my expectations.

All around me, however, I heard nothing but praise. My (long suffering and supportive partner) even brushed off my criticism as coming in the midst of NaNo and therefore I was in full on critique mode and couldn’t just enjoy things for what they were.

And, well, maybe there is some truth to that. I couldn’t stop thinking about what I would have done. What I would have cut, or changed, or moved around to make those first few episodes tighter and, in my opinion, more compelling. But, that inclination didn’t start with the Mandalorian.

A month before, while on a whirlwind weekend vacation out of state for a family wedding, I inhaled a novel that had been in my TBR pile for months. When I say inhaled, I mean I finished at 4AM the day after I started it. Then I set my kindle aside. Laid my head down. And thought to myself, “I wouldn’t have included [certain chapters from secondary character’s POV]. They really slowed down the pace.”

Honestly, it was kind of annoying. It was a good book, good enough that I didn’t bother to put it down even after a long day of air travel and visiting with my in-laws. And yet, I couldn’t just… let it be a good a book. I couldn’t leave it at that.

It’s part of the reason, I’ve realized, that I struggle so much to finish books. It’s not that they’re not good. Because, objectively, they absolutely are. It’s that I can’t turn off the part of my brain that lets me just enjoy things for what they are. It’s always “this sentence doesn’t flow” or “that word isn’t right here” or “the plot is hindered by this sequence.”

Without really knowing what an editor does, I sometimes wonder… if that is what I was meant to do. Maybe that part of me unable to let media go without critique, something that genuinely frustrates me, is actually a calling that I’ve never understood or heeded.

Or, maybe, I’m just a picky ass reader for no real reason.

All I can do is just try to let go when reading, or watching tv, or playing video games, and hope that my inherent inclination to pick things apart will come in useful when its time to turn my eyes on my own work.


This post was literally a month in the making. 2020 has not been treating me kindly and February especially was taxing on my mental health. Thanks to all my lovely friends and followers who are with me on this journey. I hope to be back next week to talk about the decision I made this week to take a break from my WIP.

Until then, my your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

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Killing Your Precious

Alright, I know I said I was going to talk about writing thin this week, but a curious thing happened to me last night almost the moment I laid my head down to sleep.

I’ve been trying to dive back into my draft since the start of the new year, mostly by going back and transcribing the words I didn’t get around to during NaNo. The very first scene, I thought, was really stellar work, even for a rough draft, and got me excited to once again be working on this project. Sadly, that fervor was short lived as I reached part of the manuscript I was less enthused about.

Which made no sense. This particular plot arc was literally the womb from which this story sprung in the first place. Back when this WIP was just a handful of notes that I jotted down in my purse notebook my very first week at my current job, this series of scenes was all I had.

But it’s been close to five years since those first jolts of inspiration, and the idea has evolved since then. This plot thread had not.

You’ve got to cut it, me said to me, my eyes still adjusting to the dark. It doesn’t fit anymore. It’s contrived, and, worse, it’s boring. You can deliver the same pertinent plot details much better if you just let it go.

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Like this only nicer?

Honestly, it felt like a weight was coming off me.

Because, the thing is, I’ve secretly known what dark me was saying all along. Even in the first draft, this particular sequence felt shoehorned in, like I was staying precious to it just because it was where my journey with this novel started. I wouldn’t call it a “darling,” because I actually kind of hated it. It bogged down the middle of the story and was unfun to write (I can only imagine how it would be to read).

So, despite the fact that I now had a gaping hole in my outline that needed to be filled and a lot of my now 60,000 word, half-finished MS would have to be entirely rewritten, I felt so much better about what I hope the end result of this project will be.

Then today, I got up and tried to do some brainstorming about how to fix it, came up with exactly two things (jack and sh…ugar), felt entirely dumb and uncreative, and spent a lot of time moping about it all.

But, unlike my issue with forcing magic into my story where I feel magic doesn’t belong, I still feel like this is the right choice. It’s creating a lot more work, but I think by recognizing it now, I’m saving myself a lot of heartache later.

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Smeagol is free!

That’s all from me this week! Maybe next week I’ll talk about my problems with writing thin. Or maybe I’ll talk about how perhaps I should have been an editor because I love cutting things. Or maybe I’ll have yet another new WIP crisis to share. Who knows? Not me! Unfortunately, though I’m a plotter in writing, life has to be pantsed.

Kerry Share

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