Lately I’ve been knee-deep in editing my book and wondering if everything would be easier if I just gave it up and became a cheese specialist in some remote country. My motto for most aspects of life is “Just wing it and pretend you’re right!” which as it turns out, is not a very good motto, not when you’re staring at the tangled fragments of a plot that sounded much better in your head and realizing your cast is 100% comprised of idiots.
(Which is my norm, to be honest.)
(Besides Emolas. And that one hunter guy. They’re okay.)
A general understanding of the editing process would help. Unfortunately, my rule of thumb has always been to revise obsessively while I’m writing (don’t do this, guys) and then cover my eyes and fling it into the world once the first draft is complete. (Don’t do this either.) I don’t want to edit. Editing requires Looking At It, which requires deep reserves of self-abasement and humility.
As you can imagine, this is a struggle for me, since I’m better than everyone else.
*meanwhile, the actual writing*
This is why I don’t want to look at it.
I realized, during an extended therapy session with my pillow (he’s very patient and never interrupts no matter how incoherent my screaming is), that the writing process is essentially just glorified mourning. Mourning the slow and tragic death of a muse at the hands of inferior brain skills. Writing is an eternal session of grief.
Feeling poetic, I grabbed a pen to scribble down this epiphany. And then, because I don’t know the meaning of healthy coping mechanisms, decided my pillow and I should keep going with the therapy session and work through the five stages of my editing grief. The first one seemed fairly self-explanatory:
I’m better than everyone else.
I looked at my pillow. My pillow looked back, sad and lumpy in the middle.
“It’s not my fault the characters won’t do what I want them to,” I said. My pillow seemed to agree, so I kept going. “It’s not my fault I wrote 90,000 words and still don’t know their motivations. How can I know if they won’t tell me? I’m an introvert. Anyway, who says they need motivation? Why can’t they just do stuff for absolutely no reason the entire book? Whoever created that rule is really stupid. I don’t like that person.”
Having come to the conclusion my problems were everyone else’s fault, I relieved my pent up stress by crumpling large sections of my manuscript and flinging them around my room.
I don’t really have to worry about this stuff, right? This disaster of a plot will work itself out if I just keep going. It’ll be fine. I wrote a masterpiece. I’m just going to wing it and pretend I’m right.
I am not right.
It’s not working itself out.
It will never work itself out.
I’m a failure. I’ve written the most horrendous piece of garbage. I need Amy March in my life to dispose of this for me. The life of a cheese specialist in a remote country would be better than my current shame. This is it, folks. I’m done. My spark has been eternally snuffed. I’ll never write another word ever again.
As I stared into the void of my 1st draft, I finally faced the truth: I’d written something so tangled, my grandmother could crochet with it.
And you know what? It’s okay. Because this is what 1st drafts are. Tangled sweater material. Even if it is truly unsalvageable, even if I have written the worst story known to mankind, even if it deserves to be swapped out with Jo’s manuscript and incinerated by the vindictive hands of Amy March, it’s still okay. Sometimes we write bad books. Sometimes we write good ones. Either way, I’ve written a book. Regardless of whether it ever gets published, regardless of whether it rots in my garbage can, I wrote a whole book, and that’s pretty cool.
Hopefully you found this passionate diatribe enjoyable, not relatable. But if you found it relatable, take heart, my friend. We’re on a learning curve. We’ll get there one day. Just not yet.
And I still hate editing.