Editing as a cuesport

This is going to be brief, because I should be editing, not blogging.

I refer you to this blog. It is far more true now for me than it was a couple of weeks ago!

But, here’s my quick thought.

Anyone who is any good at cuesports, be it pool, snooker, or billiards; often has a lot of options when they come to the table. Let’s stick with pool for now, because it’s the one most folk will be more or less familiar with, and the glorious variant known as 8 ball.

The pack has been broken up on the break, the balls scattered aross the felt. You come to the table, and have your choice of shots. Which side to choose, how best to run your seven balls out and then make the 8 to win the game?

There are thousands of choices, but most are constrained by your skill, your imagination, and your execution. Even skilled players can err in execution, so it isn’t precisely the same thing, in my mind. And your mood, whether you feel confident and aggressive, or nervous and in need of some confidence to get started, can make all the difference to the pattern you try to run to get out.

There are thousands of ways to get through just eight shots. Ways in which a player can demonstrate their style, their flair, their technique, their nerve, their concentration, and their skill.

And you can run a table ugly, where every shot doesn’t quite work, but you scramble, and somehow still get all the balls down. Your opponent is shaking his head as he watches, wondering how you managed to make an easy opportunity look so hard. But still you finish.

Or you can make an impossible table look easy, breaking open clusters, putting the white in the only place on the table where you have a shot, making insanely difficult shots look effortless. Your opponent is shaking his head wondering why he bothers playing against someone who can dominate the table so. You still had to finish. Miss the final shot and all the earlier effort can be wasted.

But it is all in the choices the player makes, the techniques employed, what spin here, what speed of stroke there, one cushion or two for the next positional play, which order to take the balls, to make it easier, or harder at the end.

Editing is like running a table of pool, except with tens of thousands of balls, now become words, to be juggled and arranged in order. In a sense there is no one perfect order, just the one that feels most right to you, the writer, the way that reflects your mood at that time, and your skill, imagination, and execution. In your command of plot and character and grammar (among many other things) you display your style, your flair, your technique, your nerve, your concentration, and your skill.

So yeah, editing a book is totally like running a rack of pool. LOL.

Next chapter.

(And when you rush a blog out you know what happens? You keep re-reading it and seeing typos and errors, and have to keep updating it. Editing before I get back to editing. Hey ho.)


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