Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. They are great at bringing new top ten themes and they have a huge list of them well in advance for those bloggers that like to plan super far ahead. You can learn about joining in here.
It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, and this week does have a theme, but I’m deviating from it! Partly because due to my rotating 2-week schedule of doing Top Ten I missed last week’s free for all. And partly because if I do a list of Top Ten Futuristic Novels I Liked I’m just going to end up with a catalog of dystopian books. So in the interests of doing something relevant to my life right now I present: 10 Thoughts Writers Have When Editing as based on my own writing experiences. So essentially 10 Thoughts I Have When Editing, but that sounds very self-centered.
This is terrible.
There is almost always a moment when you look at your manuscript and think, my God, this is a big steaming pile of you know what. Likely this occurs after going back to it after a long break, or right after completing the first very, very rough draft. Or otherwise after spending hours pounding away at the keyboard and making, what seems like, fruitless changes. Literally nothing is making this any better. Maybe nothing ever will. Maybe you should show it to people to get an objective opinion about whether or not it is terrible? But what if they lie? Or worse, what if they tell the truth and it actually is terrible?
Is my writing even good? I can’t tell if it’s good.
After awhile of being left alone with your own writing you can start to lose perspective. Or like me, you can be reading The Magicians and feeling that you’re severely lacking in the lyrical prose department. It’s that echoing question of ‘am I doing this right?’ And how can you even know? It’s not like Microsoft Word underlines a sentence in red and says ‘this is amazing and New York Times Bestseller worthy’ or ‘is this your second grade writing project?’. You can’t Google “is my writing good?” and get a bunch of yahoo answers weighing in. Unless of course you’re already a published author with lots of people answering this question in which case BULLY FOR YOU.
Gosh I’m smart/witty/hilarious
You know that feeling when you read a line, and just chuckle aloud to yourself, and a feeling of superiority and, oh gosh, is that positive self-esteem, fills you? And then someone looks over your shoulder like ‘what’s so funny?’ and you smash your laptop screen down and scream “I’M NOT DONE YET” and spend the next few minutes being paranoid. No? Just me? Well, we all have that moment where there’s something we wrote that makes us feel good about this whole novel writing deal. Something that makes you feel like you’re a day away from being the next big thing.
I should scrap this entire thing
This was a terrible idea, why did I write this? Here is the idea that you can start everything from scratch and forget about the dark nightmare of your current draft. Did it take you a year to even get this far? Yes, maybe more, but it doesn’t matter, because right now you’re ready to start fresh. New beginnings, the end of an era, or something. You may have bleed, sweat, and cried your way to this point, but suddenly you feel sure that this particular manuscript is beyond repair. It’s like Frankenstein’s monster, and you should just let villagers pillage it, or whatever it is they do, and move on to the next experiment. How hard could it be to reanimate the dead a second time?
Are any of these characters good? Am I doing this right?
Sure when you started you figured, who cares if I’m an African-American, middle class, female living in Canada, I can absolutely write from the perspective of a half-latino male living in poverty and wrestling with his mixed heritage. Right? I’m not going to anger a bunch of people who think I’m doing a terrible job at representing him, right? Okay, I’ll take it down a notch, he’s in highschool now, also in Canada, so now I know about him a bit more. But wait, have I made him washed out now? Did I melting pot him? What about his friends? Are they all just regular ol’ Canadians, or do they need things too? But I can’t just make a list of diverse traits and tick characters off like a list because that’s terrible too. Are any of his friends even likeable? What’s the purpose of Jessica, even, what is she doing here? If I gave Jessica a lip ring would that make her more interesting? Or tattoos? HOW CAN I MAKE YOU LIKE HER?
Does this make sense?
Everything you put down makes perfect sense to you. Astronaut Dave can’t stay on New Pluto because Admiral Cane is portering Jenny Pane, previously Jenny Cane, and if he doesn’t get the dashboard clock in time General Holdings won’t get to have his baby. It makes so much sense to you. But does anyone else understand it? Cue deep feelings of doubt and furious backtracking to see if there are any plot holes you missed. Then wanting to ask someone if it makes sense and garbling at them, which just produces more confusion. And then they say “wait, is a man having a baby?” and you just CAN’T TAKE ANYMORE.
Why am I even doing this?
And here comes the existential crisis. What am I doing here? What’s the point of all this? What is this leading to? What am I even? Followed by attempts to tear up at your computer in the hopes that this despair will cause a flurry of editing clarity that you can create a quote about later. Something like, you can to fall 10 times, but you only have to get up 11. But like, better than that. Something that people will buy in poster form and hang in their home office. Maybe with your face on it.
This is a beautiful piece of fictional mastery and if anyone says any different I’m going to destroy them
Forget everything I ever said about my novel, it is amazing. This is the part where euphoria kicks in, usually near the end of editing. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and through it are double rainbows, a pot of gold, and your manuscript. It is a piece of perfection and you made it. But if anyone critiques it even slightly you will turn into a huge rage monster and deny everything they say. Plot holes? Impossible, your shit is air-tight. They couldn’t relate to the characters? They just didn’t understand them. It’s not your fault that they have no hearts and their intellect isn’t high enough to grasp the intricate emotional state of your characters. And you hate them now. So there.
Okay, I’m just going to re-edit this one part, then I’ll get back to the rest *proceeds to go back and re-edit multiple times*
You know you’re only on chapter two, but now that you’ve read it, there’s this tiny thing in chapter one that’s been nagging at you. You’ll just go back and fix it up, then get right back on editing this second chapter. Except now there’s a couple more things on this first chapter that bother you, so you’ll just fix it right up then get back to that second chapter. Okay, it only took a month to tackle that tricky first chapter, but now you’re ready for the second. As soon as you fix that little typo in the first chapter…
I love this, this is my baby. If I could print this and cuddle it and put it in little manuscript diapers without being completely crazy, I would.
You made this thing from nothing. When you started it was just a blank page with nothing at all. Then you let your imagine run free and you created something that’s just fantastic. And okay there’s a couple plot holes that need to be filled in, and that one character is still a little too whiny for your liking, but those can be fixed later. You’ve got all these wonderful descriptions and witty quips worked in! It’s not perfect, but overtime you’ll keep working at it, and it’ll get better and better. And goddammit if you aren’t proud of it no matter what state it’s in!
Do you relate to any of these? Or is there a particularly prevalent thought you have while editing?
Let me know in the comments!