Monday, March 25, 2013

The Re-Writes

Oh, yeah, he's a snob, too.
Every writer has to do re-writes. (Well, maybe Heinlein didn't, but he's dead now.) It's just part of it. Either it's for editorial decisions or because one was typing so fast that mistakes just happen. Or the writer believes something can be said better, more eloquently, more simply, whatever. Re-writes are part and parcel of being a writer.

But they can suck your soul.

Every time I look at a first draft and start editing, my inner critic starts shouting about how bad I am at this. How anyone would want to read such dreck is beyond imagining. Yadda yadda.

I have to shove that critic in the fridge and then move the stove in front of it. I can't let him nibble away at me, increasing my doubt with every single word. My belief that I'm a fairly decent writer has to count for something. After all, I wouldn't have had the two books published if I was awful. Or would I?

Maybe I'm a hack. There's no degree behind my writing, there's only a lifetime of reading and an intense desire to tell stories that entertain not just me but other people, too. Does that make me a hack? I doubt it but it's possible.

But then again, maybe that's all it takes: a lifetime of reading and the intense desire to tell stories. I've been actively trying to be a storyteller (first in comics, now in prose) for a lot of years. All that practice is starting to pay off. Re-writes on AoD were a lot easier this time around than before.

By that I mean that I could anticipate the changes the editors wanted and work out their arguments to include that stuff in the writing. I wasn't always successful, but I did a helluva lot less re-writing than I did on the first Evolver book. And the second Evolver book is in re-writes and it's SO much better, exponentially better than the first draft. I'm hitting a rhythm with these books. Yeah, they're short, more novella than novel, but that's almost harder. There's no room to stretch out and pad a little.

And it's showing in the re-writes. Showing a lot more and it's shiny.

The corollary to that is that the first drafts of other things are better, too. I'll never be Heinlein, not sure I want to be, but if my re-writes become less and less painless and more like head-scratching-what-the-hell-was-I-thinking kinds of things then I'm definitely leveled up.

In the meantime, re-writes still nudge my inner critic to start shouting at me. Good thing the fridge is soundproof. And in the garage.

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