When I began learning how to edit (a process that’s ongoing), I came across this piece of advice that immediately burned itself into my brain. I think the full quote was “Edit until your eyes bleed, then edit some more.”
I’ve come to realize this is painfully good advice. I’ll edit a short story over and over and over again. Reading it out loud, questioning each word, sentence, and paragraph. Checking the flow, asking myself what parts need to come out, pruning adverbs and pronouns, trying to remove everything that’s unnecessary.
Then, when I am absolutely certain I’m done, I’ll send it out, hoping to get it published somewhere. Each time it’s rejected, I’ll go back and read it again, and sure enough, I’ll find more things that need to be changed. So I edit it again. And again. And again. Hoping I finally get it right.
Sometimes I’ll think, am I making this worse or better? But I figure if I spot something that might be improved, I’ll take the pruning shears to it once more. Am I getting better? Who the fuck knows?
I’m trying, though. I’m really trying hard.