Saturday, September 27, 2008

Re-Re-Re et al Ad Nauseam Editing -- Or Not? Sept. 27 '08

Many writers would rather have a combo root canal/colonoscopy with a pair of rabid weasels than do editing.

Why does editing our own work have such a bad connotation? For some it's the time constraints of needing the finished product out NOW. For other's it's the 'damn I was stupid to put that in/leave that out/why did I write such tripe?' moments. One character takes over a scene, another doesn't play nice, the mule in Ch. 6 is a donkey in Ch. 7 (my bad on that).

Why can't we write perfect the first time?

Because perfect is an illusion.


That's in all caps because we're not, not even me. We need to be that way, to nurture ourselves instead of 'I'm an idiot, oh that was stupid, you're a jerk'.

Rough geometry of comments and the effects: it takes 1000 'Good job!' to offset 1 'That's crap'. Even more, when we do it to ourselves.

This can all come back to why we write, for love.

We need to remember that love of writing whether we're sand surfing on Mars, gunslinging with Doc Holliday, flirting with Madame Pompadour, or telling how to get along with Vista. (I don't hate it quite as much any more).

We can't help being critical, or being judgmental. It's hardwired into us for survival--reading the signs of game that passed a few hours could mean a meal, vs. following signs days old that lead nowhere. But it's not good and evil, it just is.

That inner editor and the inner child are always battling for supremacy. So SHARE! Inner child gets to play alphabet soup and put down all sorts of stuff, and then inner editor gets to arrange into something cohesive. Damn it, they ARE FAMILY so they need to respect the time and effort each makes.

Dropkick that resentment of the inner child from the editor, because without those playful moments--there'd be nothing with which to build. Tone down that editor to a gentle parental role, nurturing the seeds the child plants. A broad cast works for some styles, measured furrows for others, or even a single pot, poke a finger in the soil, drop in the seed and cover it gently.

The child and the editor aren't adversaries, but complementary, both are the progenitor of the story, and stories, like everything else, grow best with love.


AmandaLyn said...

I actually enjoy the first edit, and even the second time through... but by the time I get to the tenth or eleventh reading and editing, I begin to think the whole thing is tripe (okay, I call it fluff crap, but same difference... the page if full of it by that time).

Thanks for the reminder and the perspective.

Turkey Lurkey said...

What if you are the editor looking at the child and the child is so caked in mud that you don't know where to begin?