The time where you take your s****y first draft and start slicing into it like a surgeon, removing the maggot-ridden and infected flesh to leave only healthy tissue.
Two years ago, I 'attended' the online self-edit course, run by the Writer's Workshop. (Would recommend it in a heartbeat) It gave me many tools to use in my editing surgeon's kit...but I still feel as though I'm operating with boxing gloves on because I still can't seem to use some of the tools right! Which is nothing to do with the fabulous tutors, Debi and Emma, and everything to do with ME.
The tool I struggle most with is Psychic Distance. I wrote about it recently - you can check out the blog and various links to sources explaining what it is, here. I understand the theory, can recognise it in other people's writing and can go so far in putting it into my own...but I still can't seem to crack the really deep stuff.
Problem is, I realised recently that I don't actually like reading PD5. So I avoid writing it.
Let me explain...
I've just finished 'Talking to the Dead' by Harry Bingham. (Harry is also the face of Writer's Workshop, which we love him for!) I've also recently finished 'Prince of Thorns' by Mark Lawrence. I can heartily recommend both books - I couldn't put either of them down for very different reasons. Harry's thriller has a somewhat dysfunctional policewoman as his main character, Mark's fantasy has a murdering, pillaging teenage prince as his. Both books are written in first person, so you're pretty close to the main character throughout.
But - and this is no disrespect to Harry here, we're talking just about me and my reactions - I preferred Prince of Thorns, because it didn't go so deep into the MC's head. I actually felt uncomfortable with Fiona Griffiths' view of the world. That's not to say I was entirely comfortable with the murdering, pillaging teenager either, but I was able to observe his world from more of a distance...I wasn't inside his skin, experiencing everything like I did with Fiona. That, I found unsettling and uncomfortable.
I think this has reinforced my realisation that I'm first and foremost an observer when I write. I can't 'do' (maybe I avoid?) the touchy feely stuff, but I can tell the story. When others say 'you could go really deep into this character here', I simply can't. And it's not through lack of trying...
Is it a bad thing, that I can't do psychic distance to the extreme? Not necessarily. Look at Enid Blyton or Roald Dahl. I don't remember getting inside the heads of Charlie in the chocolate factory or the Saucepan Man in the Magic Faraway Tree...but I loved (and still remember) the stories. Course, I'm not for one moment suggesting that I'm anywhere near as good a writer as either of them; just that my personal writing style is similar. A bit outdated, maybe?
Oh, it's confusing! Do I accept myself as the writer I am, knowing that it doesn't tick 'modern' boxes? Or push myself to add something into my writing that I'm just not comfortable doing?
Maybe I'll just have to keep cutting up cadavers until I get good enough to try it on the real thing...