Writing makes me vulnerable, and I hate being vulnerable. I doubt myself and my craft, and because this story is mine, I’m the only one to blame if it’s horrible and a complete failure. I’m already self-deprecating to begin with so knowing this from the beginning I had to learn to believe in myself somewhat to keep going. Rewriting intensifies all of this, like, brings it from a 5 to a 10, then from a 10 to a 20.
Now, I love my creation. But I also hate it. I’ve been told that this is normal, that writers almost always hate their own work. I sit here, listening to Paramore’s albums on shuffle (I need music to write, it helps inspire me), reading comments and notes and I keep asking myself, ‘Why am I doing this? This is terrible, it sucks, and I hate it’. I walk away, only to be brought back to my laptop because my mind (and heart) won’t let me stop. I’m dedicated and I’ve invested myself in this and I'm not a quitter.
Writing is hard work, some of the hardest work out there. As a fiction writer, it’s my job to create a world, characters and a plot worth reading. You grow attached to your creation, nurturing it to the end. But when that’s done, once I’ve written the last word and finished my creation, it’s not the end; enter the rewriting and revision process.
This week I started that painful process. I’ve done it before, but I have to do it again. I have to get down to the bare bones (or studs) of my story and rebuild the body (or house) around it, taking out or changing the parts that don’t belong, don’t fit or are just unnecessary, as well as recreate to get to the perfect end product.
I know what you may be thinking: That doesn’t sound too hard; just cut the fat. But cutting sentences, paragraphs or even whole chapters, changing/deleting characters that-to the writer-are real people in their imagination is kind of like building a city. You fill it with businesses, landmarks and people and then have to take a chunk of it away to make it its best. How do you choose when you’re the one who put it there to begin with? It’s hard, especially because as the writer, I don’t see it from a reader’s point of view so I may not recognize what’s not working or is irrelevant. But its work that needs to be done.
I kind of relate some of the rewriting/revision process to dieting. I love pizza and ice cream, but I can’t eat those all the time because if I did, I’d weigh twice as much as I do and be very unhealthy. In order to stay healthy and feel good about myself, I have to exercise and sometimes eat things I’d rather were pizza or ice cream. Exercise and eating right, for me, are work but they are things I need to do.
So basically, my manuscript is on a diet. And instead of it needing to lose
20 pounds, I need it to lose at least 20,000 words to get to where it’s healthy and feels good. And as much as I hate making my manuscript do crunches and cardio and cut out junk food, I love how good it feels as I see the results of this hard work and how much more I will love my end product. I may hate the work to get there, I may hate the way it looks now, but I kept telling myself it’ll all be worth it in the end because underneath the excess weight is an awesome creation ready to be told.
I just have to keep believing.