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Editing - and when it's not a good idea.

I know. I keep saying it. Once a week, already. On Sunday. That's when I post.

But sometimes...

Kristen Lamb, author of We Are Not Alone, a guide to Social Media Marketing for Writers just put up a blog entry - go on. Look here. You know you want to :-) - on which I can't help but comment. Well, I didn't help but comment. I, um, commented :-P. But just in case you didn't see me way down the list of people agreeing with Ms Lamb (yes, I was one of them), here's my two cents.

Ms Lamb was commenting on the possible perils of plunging into editing a work in progress too early. Of trying, perhaps, to get each early word, sentence, paragraph, chapter, perfect - before even knowing if there was a book to actually write. And thereby severely slowing, or even killing the chance off, the book being finished. Ever. At all.

So consider for a moment. Consider Mr Meriwether Lewis. Consider Mr William Clark.

Yes. The Lewis and Clark Expedition. But what if Mr Clark and Mr Lewis had been 'early editor' types? What if every time they made camp they'd refused to move one more step of the way 'til they'd built a nice dock at each camp, a trading station, established a custom house, built a small town...

Bugger that. The Great Lewis And Clark Expedition would have been more the Great Lewis and Clark Camping Trip Over The Next Hill. Which isn't just clumsy, it has far too many capitals for sanity :-). But they'd still never have got any further than figuring out the best place for, say, a Macy's at their first stop. Even if at that time Roland Hussey Macy wasn't yet a glint in a Macy Senior eye.

Jefferson (that's the one who was busy being President at the time) told Mr Lewis and Mr Clark their first and highest priority was to get there. Even though he didn't know exactly where 'there' was at the time. He didn't actually say that building an Interstate with nice neat paving and decent truck stops could come later. Well, since they were looking for a water route, he wouldn't. Even if he'd gotten round to inventing Interstates back then :-). But if anyone had brought the subject up, I imagine he'd have expressed quite strong views on the matter. With an axe.

Ah. Sorry. The whole axe thing was young Washington, or so I'm told. But you get the picture :-).

The first thing is to get there. Actually, that's not the first thing. The first thing is to work out if there's a 'there' to get to. It's just that, like Mr Lewis and Mr Clark, the best way to find out if you can get 'there', to find out whether there's a book that needs editing, is to write the damn book. The rest is tarmac. And truck stops. And rest-rooms. And do-nuts with nice crunchy icing and lovely creamy...

Damn. I hate being a diabetic :-P.

As Ms Lamb says. There's nothing wrong with editing. Indeed, there's everything wrong with not editing. But, and with apologies to Mr Young and Mr Oliver, (Banarama came rather later), it ain't what you do. It's the when that you do it :-).

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