I haven’t felt like a writer in months
For the past few weeks I have been working on a rewrite – slash – edit – slash – reworking of a novel of mine called Fixer, about which you have likely heard almost nothing because I haven’t discussed it except in passing before now.
I hate editing. Every writer says that and every writer is telling the truth when they say that, so it’s no huge shock, but really: I hate editing. It’s the most important part of writing that feels the least like actual writing or creating. Honestly, the last time I felt like a writer was when I finished Hellenic Immortal, and that was about four months ago.
Why writers hate editing
I’ve never had a true content editor for my own writing. Just my saying that has caused a half dozen professional editors to choke on their tongues and half a dozen potential buyers of Immortal to quietly move along to another book before I see them leaving. But while I would absolutely tell you, random person asking for advice, to hire one immediately, I haven’t needed one yet myself.
One big reason writers both hate editing their own work and often turn out to be less than effective at it is that we don’t see problems for which we can’t think of a solution. I can, for instance, read a section and say to myself, “this doesn’t work,” but if I can’t think of why and how to fix it, I might just say “this is good enough” and move on.
I know I do this. And it’s why I’m hating editing so very much right now.
I ended up with Fixer after pondering the question, “how could I create the idea of a guardian angel without involving anything religious?” The final product ended up far from that initial germ of an idea (which actually originated in an anecdote told to me by a coworker whose wife was saved by someone who promptly “vanished”) and is now mainly about a man who can see a rolling five seconds of the future trying to stop something only he can see from killing people.
The book is written in third person. If you’re familiar with Immortal you know I’m not used to that. And some of the things that need fixing (hah) revolve around my own unfamiliarity with the third person voice. (And yes, considering how hard first-person is to write in, you are allowed to find that ironic.) But there are also pacing problems resulting in my not knowing some characters as well as I should, entire chapters that should exist and entire chapters that should not. I have parts of story from across a timeline of 40 years that I don’t know how to sort, and a relentless ending that’s too relentless and ends too suddenly.
And I know all of this. And I only have a dim idea of how to fix it. And until I figure that out, I’m going to be angry with myself for not being able to. And when I do I’m not even sure what I’m doing with the newly finished product yet.
Yes, folks the life of a writer is just full of glamor.