No, this is not the post I promised a while back. Not yet. Think of this as a pre-post.
Last night over dinner, calendula_witch and I were comparing notes on current writing projects. “I’ll fix that on revision” is one of our favorite phrases in those conversations. I mentioned that I’d been thinking about making a blog post on the difference between revision and editing. That unfolded into a curious conversation wherein the more granular our discussion became, the more confused I became. That in turn eventually forced me to fall back on three basic concepts, none of which I am very satisfied with.
1) There is often a difference of scale between revision and editing, but that is not the distinguishing feature between the two.
2) There’s a reason we don’t call all those nice people at the publishing houses “Revisers”.1
3) I am sorely tempted by the Potter Stewart test, viz. “I know it when I see it”, which is a bad sign for the clarity of my own thinking.
So let me turn this around and throw the question open. What do you think the difference is between revision and editing? I’m quite curious how this looks to other folks.
1. Granted that editing as done by acquisitions editors, copy editors, production editors, managing editors, etc., is a different-but-related beast from editing done by an author laboring away in their digital garret.