Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Writing, Revising, and Startitis

A tiny preview of something in my book.
"Startitis" happens for a reason. Casting on a project is way more fun than sewing on buttons or darning in ends, at least for me.

I'm working on the first round of edits for my first book. I say this hoping it will not be my last book. I'm on the stage that feels like choosing buttons. I'm not even to sewing on buttons, yet!

Editing, even though it is so important to good writing, isn't quite as much fun as writing, for me. It takes discipline. You have to love and hate your writing at the same time. Love it enough to spend time reading it carefully. Hate it enough to cut, delete, and change it.

There's a saying in the news business for a hard-nosed editor: "She doesn't mind killing other people's words." (In reality, that phrase is put in a way that is much colder, but I don't want the Google results that might come up if I use the one I know best.)

It is painful to realize that I have written something out in 2 pages what I can re-write in half a page. But, it's exciting to see that half a page when it is finished...and to realize that the half page maybe wouldn't have been possible without the 2-page draft that came before it.

I felt better about my ambiguous relationship to rewriting when I read A Moveable Feast. There's a section where Hemingway damns Stein's writing with faint praise. He writes about her great affection for writing, and how much she loves turning it out on a daily basis. But. She doesn't edit, rewrite, or even read her proofs for herself.
"This book (The Making of Americans) began magnificently, went on very well for a long way with stretches of great brilliance and then went on endlessly in repetitions that a more conscientious and less lazy writer would have put in the waste basket."
OUCH! I hope no one says something like that about me. I know some of my weaknesses. I tend to hyperbole. I use too many words when fewer will do. I'm trying to fix that, now.

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