What I was really addressing was a very narrowly-defined aspect of editing: the critique.
Some might correct me and declare that the critique is an entirely different animal, but I say that what I do to my story afterward—based upon the comments, corrections, and suggestions of the critique—is editing. And it is a very daunting, overwhelming, soul-searching, ego-bruising, career-questioning process.
Or maybe I’m just being melodramatic.
I can only speak from personal experience, but the post-critique editing process goes something like this:
Critique Comment: “Need more information about the setting.” “Why does your heroine care about this?” “So, she’s okay with turning into a mermaid, but this weirds her out?”
My Response: “Okay, I’m on a tight word count limit here, but I can work to make the setting details more clear.” “Good point. Let me see where I can shoe-horn in some character motivation somewhere.” “Sigh. I have a word limit. I can’t go on indefinitely about her turning into a mermaid… I have to keep the story going and this is—Hmmm…actually, maybe I could cross this part out and play up the mermaid thing. Okay, this is good.”
Critique Comment: “Why does she wonder if the hero could turn out to be a creep or ax-murderer? Seems odd.”
My Response: “Uh, wouldn’t it be even more odd if she accepted him without wondering what kind of man he is? Okay, I’ll take out the ax-murderer comment and just have her wonder about his moral compass in general.”
Critique Comment: “All these –ly adverbs are telling words. They need to go.”
My Response: Argh! Adverbs are perfectly acceptable parts of speech! *Deep breath* Okay, I’ll do a search and minimize them where I can. But I do have a word count I’m over at this point.”
Critique Comment: “This is telling. Need to show.” “This is telling; show instead.” “This is telling… try showing.” “Please show instead of tell.” “Telling”…
My Response: “Yeah, I see it’s a little telling. Will reword to be more showing, even though that will add more words and I’m already well-past my limit. But it will make my story stronger, which is good.” “Sigh. Um, yeah, I guess so. I’ll see if I can show with minimal increase in words.” “FINE! I CAN’T FIX EVERY—Oh, wait, I can change this one and save a few words doing it.” “ARGH! WHAT DOES IT MATTER—yeah, this is a bad one. I’ll re-work it.” “SONOFA—! *Bangs head on desk*”
Critique Comment: “I don’t get this part.”
My Response: “It’s a Star Wars reference. And it stays as is.”
Critique Comment: “So, I pretty much hate your hero. You’re going to have to re-work everything from here to the end.”
My Response: “Uuuuuhhhh….Okaaaaay…. *begins complete rewrite, going over the word count triple time. Halfway through, throws self on floor, curls into fetal position, and questions why I’m even trying because I clearly suck and should give it up.”
Critique Comment: “You know, this would be more effective if she turned into an underwater were-bear instead, and he was a sexy alpha nymph vampire with a rescue dog who can see into the future. The way it is right now it’s just not believable.”
My Response: *throws computer. Burns down house. Relocates to another state and assumes the name Ivana Spahnkit. Lives out the rest of life working at Walmart and reading nothing longer than a wine label.*
And that is why I hate editing.