"I am at a loss to conceive how a man should permit himself to write anything that would be truly disgraceful to a woman, or why a woman should be censured for writing anything that would be proper and becoming for a man."

23 August 2011

Kicking Brain Puppies

Editing is hard. Just getting that out there for any and all aspiring writers. Slashing words you've grown accustomed to, and in some cases even grown to like (possibly A LOT), does not lead to great joy until you get yourself in a headspace capable of knowing what you do is meant to make your work stronger. Once you wrap your mind around that and accept it, it can make you stronger, too. After a while you begin to feel that just by deleting passages and correcting spelling and grammar issues for clarity, you have done what is necessary to make your work better.
Oh no, sweets.
There's more.
It's called re-writing.
And it's a pain in the ass.

Your editing mind has finally come to terms with its existence and you have a symbiotic relationship. You cut things out, and change some structural issues, and feel better about yourself, the process of editing, and your work as a whole.
Then you must go back and look at the work as a writer again, to fix plot holes, clarify and/or strengthen characters and relationships, add layering details... and your writer brain hides in a corner like a punished child, neglected by time apart from it and weakened and afraid from having the editing mind push it away while Editing Mode trumped all other needs for the work.
It's malnourished, depressed, and confused as to why you're seeking it out again with such joyful energy when three weeks ago you banished it in favor of the bullying Editor Mind.
Editor Mind doesn't care. It's happy to hang around and wait until you need it again (because it knows you'll come crawling back soon enough). Writer Mind, however, looks at you with plaintive eyes and quiet whimpers of sadness. You coax, you bribe, you get down to face it on its level and ask oh so sweetly for it to come back to you. It's wary, though. You wounded it and it hasn't recovered yet. It remembers screaming to you, wanting to be released while you had it locked in a closet when working with Editor Mind, pleading and begging to rewrite passages. You didn't listen. You needed to edit. You didn't want to shut away the Writer Mind, but you exist in a world of deadlines which Writer Mind doesn't understand. Editor Mind does, though, so you needed its help. Editor Mind is damn good at telling Writer Mind to STFU and mind itself. So good that Writer Mind has just been likened to an abused puppy for an entire paragraph in hopes that giving it the treat of extended metaphor might coax it out of hiding.

*le sigh*

This is one of those times I know I need to be a writer. It drives me, feeds me, pulses within me. Without it I am utterly lost. That ain't to say it's easy, though. Easy right now would be to chuck it all aside and turn to something that is... like knitting, or playing piano, or becoming an expert marks-person. I can't do any of those. I have a puppy to coax out of a corner so I can finish my novel, start writing query letters, and then have myself and my puppy kicked an inestimable number of times until someone coaxes us out of a corner...

There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. ~Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith


  1. You are brave. I am so not looking forward to that part. Shit, it's hard enough just finishing a rough draft!! So awesome you are past that point and soon you will be past this, too. Go get 'em!

  2. Indeed. ..."open a vein." That's usually what I coo to a puppy to coax it out of a corner...


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