I had a bit of a light bulb go off today. I realised that while I had been thinking that revising and editing are the same thing, this is not the case! They are two separate steps in the writing process.
Revising is when you’ve finished the draft and you’re reading through it for the feel of the story, which might involve dealing with the structure, logic or flow. You’re testing to see if the characters are strongly enough developed for the storyline you’ve chosen, if the story is grounded enough in setting to feel real and if the plot accelarates at the right pace. These are all big picture things, like playing with the large shapes of a painting making sure you’re getting the composition right. You’re looking at the big blobs to see if they balance each other and make you feel easy. It’s not about detail.
Editing is where you’ve done the big picture work, you feel comfortable the story is balanced right and you’re looking at the finer detail of language and sentence structure, as well as picking up those stray typos we all miss. This is where you’re getting down to the nitty gritty of ‘is that the right word there?’ or ‘would that character really say that?’, and it can only really be done when the revising has finished.
Now that I’ve figured it out, it seems so obvious!