One of the biggest things I struggle with in my writing is this: writing versus editing. I am something of a perfectionist, and getting it just right is something that has (so far) taken five years. I spend so much time going back through what I’ve already written, finding parts that don’t work, reworking them, finding out later they need to be reworked again. And again. And erased. And rewritten. And edited. I’d say at least ninety percent of my time spent writing this book so far has been consumed with editing. I’m not sure if other writers are the same, but I find my tastes in writing seem to be continually evolving, and so what sounds good changes frequently. When the time scale of evolution is distended to something like five years, the change is … well, considerable.
I came across this quote tonight as I was looking for something to spice up the post. “Make it great, no matter how long it takes. There’s no such thing as too many drafts. There’s no such thing as too much time spent. As you well know, a great book can last forever. A great book can change a person’s life. A mediocre book is just commerce.” That’s courtesy of David Shenk, author of The Forgetting and The Genius in All of Us. That kind of gives me a little reassurance that all this editing is going to pay off. Cause honestly? I feel like I’m moving at a slug’s pace here.
Today I tried something different though. For starters, instead of waiting until 11:00 at night to start writing and watching the minutes tick away until I get to tired to write at all and put it off until tomorrow again, I hit the ground running and started writing right out of bed this morning. Then when I was stuck with my writing, I took a long shower. Then came back and wrote some more. I had some really clever ideas and the juices were flowing. Then I got stuck so I had some lunch, watched some Frasier, played some video games, went for a walk, and came back and finished writing an excellent ending to my chapter. Normally I say, “Well, it’s time to write, so I guess I’ll write.” Then I sit there for hours until I have those sacred thousand words. But I’m pretty pleased with how my segmented writing session went today. Whenever I can update this site, and meet my writing goal for the day, it’s a good day.
So yeah, finished chapter thirteen, which bumps me up to 53,358 words so far. I’m not sure what the total will end up being. But I’m feeling pretty good about it so far, and I’m gearing up for a total re-edit when I hit 60,000 words. Maybe. There’s a significant part coming up that will be the conclusion to the first book in the novel. I’ll edit when I get there. But point is I’m excited, and even with innumerable hours of editing behind me, and countless yet to come, I feel somewhat vindicated. I’m editing because it will be a damn good book. And while it may not turn out to be as wildly popular as Harry Potter or Twilight, I’ll take comfort knowing that it wasn’t written for commerce.