Thursday, January 2, 2014

Editing vs. Writing

One thing about writing I've found difficult recently is switching between "editor" mode and "writer" mode.

Moon Shine Red, a full-length novel that I finished about a year ago (or was it two?) is currently in the editing stage as I work towards self-publishing it. I'm finding that I like the publishing process much less than I like the writing process.

Reading someone else's editorial notes has a tendency to paralyze me. The ideas and revisions being suggested may improve Moon Shine Red, but they also spotlight my writing weaknesses, and make me painfully aware of the mistakes I make daily.
If I made that many mistakes in writing, re-writing, and self-editing Moon Shine Red, what am I doing writing anything new?

Part of me wants to throw out the book and move on, forget all the work I put into it, forget that people enjoy reading it, forget the entire 100,000 words. Anything requiring that much editing isn't worth it. I'll just write something new and better.
But the rest of me says that I can't give up now. That anything I write is going to need the help of others. That I will never reach perfection no matter how many manuscripts I throw out.
(Which would be upsetting, except perfection is over-rated. Nothing I have ever read was "perfect." Does that mean it was useless or bad? Absolutely not!)

Still, I want my writing to be as good as I can make it, and that means being analytical and ruthless with it, which is painful, and then, even worse, letting other people be analytical and ruthless with it, which is even more painful.

Then I start trying to work on one of my new stories and the analytical and ruthless part of my brain has trouble turning off and letting my creative and inspired side work. I keep trying to edit as I write.

And that doesn't work. I have to allow myself to make mistakes, knowing they will be there to edit out later. I have to let myself change the plot as the story grows and add new characters, even though that means I will have to rewrite the beginning, probably multiple times.

It's a skill I'm learning.

Letting myself write, in spite of the editing that I know will follow.