Monday, September 5, 2011

Editing, editing, editing

Perhaps this is a message of hope. Perhaps it's a warning that if you're considering the writing life, then have your heart and mind prepared for the frustrations and thrills of trying to tame the written word.

I revealed my first two chapters to a friend, fellow writer and former critique group member (she's moved out of the area, we did not throw her out). I needed someone to read them, not for a line by line critique but just a general "does it work" idea and to reassure myself that I hadn't edited the manuscript into a mess that no longer made sense.

These are legitimate questions/fears.

She liked them. She had read a recent version of the manuscript a couple years ago and thought the antagonist's motives more clear and his character more believable.

These are the same changes-- to the mythical structure of my supernatural universe-- that I labored over a month ago trying to decide whether these changes would be for THIS series or a book in the future.

A writer has to listen to his/her heart, because those lingering doubts of "what if" would haunt him/her every time a rejection comes in. Maybe I waste too much time writing and editing, but if I as a person am always changing, my manuscripts must change too.

One of the first things you learn in journalism is to save everything you write and to go through it once a year and throw it all in the trash except for maybe your five favorite pieces. You grow so quickly under the routine of professional writing that those early pieces look like garbage. In hindsight, they are embarrassing.

Fiction has similar growth. Whether it be the bad poems an author wrote in high school or a first manuscript, eventually we look back and see the faults. But since I'm not published yet, I can improve these early words and make them something I'm still proud of. I'm okay with that.

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