Many weeks ago, I started editing my novel. While this isn't the first thing I've written, it is the first time I have ever done any large scale editing.
When I opened up my rough draft here's what I thought editing would look like:
1. run spell check and correct any typing flubs.
2. adjust off phrases and correct passive tense.
3. fill in some minor details that weren't completely fleshed out when I started writing.
Not a very hefty list. I naively assumed it would only take a few weeks, maybe a month to finish. After all, I still had to work and take care of my kids.
I'm not ready to laugh at my stupidity, but at least I can see the error of my ways. Oh sure, I ran spell check. I even went back and filled in those missing details (things like last names and other trivial facts).
The real wake-up call came when I started re-reading the draft to look for what I thought of as weak writing. I realized then the amount of work staring at me from those pages. I quickly printed out my novel and made a new list of things to do. It looked more like this:
1. ctrl+F all those words I keep over using (pretty, just, almost, etc., etc.)
2. keep reading the same section at least twenty times until I can figure out why it stinks.
3. obsess over poor verb choices.
4. remove all the flashy dialogue tags, you moron.
5. make changes that create continuity issues I'll have to fix later.
6. recognize the numerous useless subplots and remove or fix them.
The list keeps going, but I think you get the idea. My once beautiful pages look like an English teacher exploded on them. I have circled words, entire sections slashed through, arrows moving sections from here to there. My favorite are the arrows reminding me to turn the page over where I have completely re-written an entire page. I'm also partial of the big question marks to indicate I have no idea why I wrote something.
Needless to say, my estimate of time is a little off. A few weeks has grown into a few months. It's hard, ugly and makes my brain work more than it did when I wrote the first draft. But at the end...it will be a better novel. Or at least that's what I keep telling myself.