Editing is a goddamn nightmare.
As my lovely regular readers will know, I’m writing a novella. That is to say, I wrote a novella, and I am now editing it. These two processes, editing and writing, are quite different. I’d like to illuminate that difference for you today, if you’ll let me. And also I’d like to complain about why editing sucks a big bag of dicks. Thanks.
Writing is beautiful. It’s an art. When you’re deep in the throes of writing, the story seems to leak out from some magical place in another plane of existence. The story comes to you from heaven above, carried on golden wings. Or maybe the story bubbles up from hell, riding a chariot of flames pulled by demonic imps. Or, maybe the story just appears from some other place of which we have no conception. This is all to say in quite colorful language that writing a story is like receiving a message from another world. It’s mystifying.
Editing is like taking a big ole crap. You sit on the toilet just wishing for the experience to be over, but it never ends.
Editing is like trying to squeeze coal into diamonds. You just squeeze and squeeze and squeeze, knowing the potential is in there, just trying to get it out for all eternity. Please do not conflate the language here with the previous metaphor, thank you.
Editing is like banging your head against a brick wall until the light shines through from the other side. Or until you die. Whichever comes first.
Here’s the problem, though… There’s no other option. As a writer, you can’t not edit. It’s an obligation. You either edit your work to make it pretty and presentable, or you release an unfinished manuscript to the world. You can spend a year writing a novel and release it as is, but could you ever really be happy with that? Could you be happy knowing that a huge chunk of your creativity was forever imperfect, forever unfinished?
No. No you fucking can’t. Writers are a neurotic bunch. We can’t just shit out a book and let it fly into the world unedited, with its sweatpants on, unshowered, no deodorant, twenty pounds of fat hanging from its gut. That’s what blogs are for.
Hence, this is why I’m writing today. I want to winge about the writing process. I want to crap out a blog post into the wind. I want all you writers out there to say, ‘yeah, editing fucking sucks man, I’m with you’. I want to indulge myself. I want to step away from the endless edits. I want to be free. I want to feel the rush of writing a big idea, a new idea. I want to really bite into something.
God please fucking take me now if I have to edit one more 5 word phrase into 4. Take me now if I have to look at one more passive verb and make it active. God forgive me if I die of sheer ennui if I have to reread one more paragraph, one more page, one more chapter.
Obviously I’m not really suicidal over a little editing. Homicidal? Sure. But not suicidal just yet. If you’re feeling suicidal, reach out to someone you love. If you ever need someone to talk to, you can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s my actual personal email address, and I’ll answer as soon as I can. I highly recommend talking to someone you love, or to a professional, but I’m here for you. All bullshit aside. Even if you’re not feeling like offing yourself, I’m here for you, dear reader. Until the very end.
Now, back to complaining.
What’s the main point I’m trying to make here? Writing is great and editing sucks? No. It’s deeper than that. It’s very profound. Probably.
What I’m getting at here… It’s once you’re done banging your head against that brick wall, a light does shine through. The light comes through, and you look through the blood to see the beauty that lies beyond. The beauty you unearthed with your blood and sweat and tears. That’s what we got into this game for, after all.
All the pain is worth it, in the end. Or, if it’s not, you can always take a day off and complain about it on the internet.