Editing Old Tales

It’s strange when editing something you’ve written years again. It’s kind of like working with your younger self. You can hear your younger self speaking to you across the years. You find yourself say: Hey Paula, what were you thinking. Gosh, that’s so wordy. Hey, you’re repeating yourself here. You don’t need that, cut, cut, cut.

My younger self

Wisdom comes with age. It’s the same in life. As children we think our parents and grand parents don’t know what they are talking about. Yet there are moments in our lives when we hear things once said to our younger selves coming back to haunt us. I expect if we could hold up a listening device across the generations we would all hear familiar things being said to our ancestors as children. The echoes coming back across time as our many times-great grandparents tell their children off for things we once did, like making too much noise, or to go to sleep once they were in their beds, not to rush their food, to tidy up their things, that money doesn’t grow on trees etc.

Knowledge and distance helps us when editing our old work to see our faults so much clearer and allows us to give a fresh twist to old stories. In the past I’ve created new works out of old stories and half completed ideas. You know the ones that screamed at you to write them. They bubbled up and spilled out of you in an endless river of words only to dry up on the parched lake of dead end ideas. A spark of an idea wasn’t enough to keep it alive, or maybe you finished the story or book, but it lacked that magic to hook a publisher or agent.

Distance and Perspective

Distance allows us to view things in a new light. A hectic mother trying to keep house, husband and children clean, fed and safe doesn’t always comes across as caring and loving mum to her little ones. Yet, once those children become adults and they understand the pressure their mother was under especially once they have children of their own. A new perspective changes everything. When rejection comes your way remember this. Set it aside and allow yourself distance.

I’ve found that I can see so much clearer my wordy sentences, my repeated information dumping and clinches. No amount of read-throughs would have revealed the problems to me before. Time really does give us a clearer perspective.

6 thoughts on “Editing Old Tales

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  1. On Sunday I finished the first draft of my latest novel, and it’s now printed out and zipped up in a folio ready for me to read ‘as a reader’ in a couple of weeks, once I have gained a bit of distance from it.

    Two weeks isn’t much though. I think it’s more interesting when you have even more distance!

    I have a novella that I wrote during the winter of 1993/1994 sitting on my computer, and I have recently started to think about how I could extend it into a full-length novel. I re-read the opening chapter the other day, and I can still see my style there in the writing, but I have improved a lot since then. This is probably going to be my next project.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You were a cute “younger self.” I totally agree . . . time gives you the perspective you need to look at your work objectively. That’s a lovely photo of the gentleman on the path. I assume it’s from where you live. Your area is gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Priscilla. Yes, that’s a local photo. The gentleman is my baby boy 😂🤣 He towers over me now. Bless him.


  3. Very wise words, Paula. We need to distance ourselves from our writing to get a more objective view, and there’s no greater distance than time.


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