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I've been working hard to get book 2 of my first fiction series, The Last Iteration, out the door. The novel was roughed in already, but when I returned to it after getting Book 1 out the door, I realized something:
It was total rubbish.
Okay, that's the harsh internal critic in me. But the truth sunk it: I needed to hack it to pieces. So I did, and I sent it over to my publisher so she can decide if its actually any good.
The whole process got me to thinking about editing.
Books are better with editors. Movies are better after they get edited. Rampant artists rarely can see the forest for the trees. One must step back, and see what is missing, sure, but more importantly: what SHOULD be missing?
This is true of nearly all creative endeavors. My brother who is actually an artist once told me a maxim about his field: find the thing you absolutely love in your work, and remove it.
I think the same holds true outside of art. Let me hold up the most obvious example: Steve Jobs. By himself, he wasn't exactly coming up with great ideas. But he was a masterful editor. When he came back to Apple, he cut the product line down to four products. Four. Sure, he gained a reputation as a bit of a jerk, but let's be honest: what propelled Apple to the top of the stack was absolutely flawless editing of product, functions, design, and go-to-market strategy.
I was looking over a friend's resume the other day, as well. This guy did really impressive things at the company he worked for, but it was buried in his descriptions of the job title he had, and that jobs description. I recommended he chop it down, compress some of the titles, and focus on the results he achieved for the company.
Some people call it simplification-- there are always those that espouse simplication. But its really hard, in the end, to simplify.
My advice? Get an editor. It is an art not all can practice, but benefits everyone.