Will the real story editor please stand up? I can tell you this right now, it’s not me. Nope, no way, no how! This is seriously one of the harder things I’ve had to try and do. I’m not liking it one bit but I’m trying to press on as best as I can. I’m almost giddy from the relief that I don’t really have a deadline on this since I’m currently unpublished with no agent to breathe down my neck. Of course I wouldn’t mind if I did have an agent breathing down my neck (it might make the process go faster) since that would mean I might actually be able to realistically sell this thing. Still, if I ever hope to sell it, I need to have a more precise, more cohesive, and better written (or in this case rewritten) beast to offer.
When I sat down with the venerable ‘project that really wasn’t’ after it was printed I was damn proud. I sat there for a minute or two….or four or five and admired my handiwork. There it was sitting proudly, it was shining a grand spectacle of my glorious achievement. It was one spiral bound ode to perfection, my pinnacle achievement in my quest to become an author. The heavens opened and the angels sang. Well at least in the privacy of my office they did.
Then with a smile and mental pat on my back I opened it to delve into the creative goodness that the cover could barely contained. I read the first page with a frown, it wasn’t bad. There was potential for a good story, it wasn’t quite glowing but it hadn’t taken on the evil tint that was to come yet. Five pages in and it felt like I had ran my shiny, sparkling Lamborghini grill first into that graffiti covered K-rail at the end of the road. Steam poured from the hood, the engine hissed angrily at me and when I walked away it was quickly and with amazement that I could’ve created such a wreck. I didn’t turn my back on it for fear that it was going to magically transform into some beast of a Decepticon and rip me to shreds with wild abandon and a maniacal giggle.
I’ve come up with every excuse to keep from returning to it but like the good trooper and with my head bowed by defeat I trudge silently to my desk and begin anew. The bathrooms and the floorboards are very clean right now. I have resorted to taking the hour or so I get to eek out for writing each day and breaking it up. I work on my new project for forty-five minutes or so and then open the ‘project that can’t be named’ and work on a page or two. It looks a little better after getting to explore another story first. My fresh writing has been reduced to being the nine beers I need to pick up on the ugly girl with buckteeth and military issue glasses over in the corner.
To be honest I’m not sure it’s really all that bad but this editing thing has a way of making you look at yourself in a mirror and forces you to deal with all the imperfections. I walk around most days thinking I’m not getting old and those aren’t crow’s feet I see at the corner of my eyes. There is no way I’m getting a step slower and my best years are not the ones that have past me by! Yet that damn mirror tells me different. It’s that glorious wakeup call that reminds you, ‘Writing aint easy’. (and yes…you are getting older!)
Re-reading my work is a little like passing that mirror over and over but it’s also not a bad thing. It’s a reality check and while my image in the mirror is not pretty, especially with no shirt on….ugh…shudder. No, I can look in that mirror and see that maybe I’m not as old as I should be, nor as fat as I could be. Maybe I’m slower than ninety percent of my friends on the bike but I still ride! I’m still trying. That’s how this editing thing is going. I’m still trying. There are nuggets of gooey goodness in there. Some dialogue that jumps off the page at me and I am able to sit back and think, “Damn, that rocked.” The nugget could be a description, an idea, a plot point….something that is just plain good. For every five or six lines I run into something that keeps me going. I think at this point I’m doing it just to find little tidbits of the genius I know I can produce. I’ll find one just as I think there is no hope and that gives me the courage to go on till I find the next one.
So I’m about forty or fifty pages into a nearly two hundred page tome. It’s slow going but it is going forward and that’s the best direction to be going in no matter what you’re doing. They say you have to re-write over and over and over again before you have a finished peace. I’m hoping that’s the case, I haven’t gone back to reread the items I’ve fixed and rehashed but I just know they’re going to rock in a way no one’s ever rocked it before.