Wednesday, 22 September 2010

And If You Edit When You're Angry, You Only Wake Up Sad...

My year ten teacher used to say that in writing it is necessary to kill your babies, which I can only assume is an approximation of the well known phrase kill your darlings. What she meant was that you can't let your own feelings about a piece of prose stop you from editing it for the better.

I can see the merit in that.

Well, tonight I am in a bad mood. I won't make excuses. I am just in a bad mood. I came home from uni today wanting to write and I spent about half an hour writing something and then deleted it all because it wasn't going anywhere. Then I did some laundry etc, came back and tried to write something else. And I started off really well. But that sort of faded when I realised I have NO IDEA how it feels to be someone's step father. Plus the story had a bit of a Lolita vibe going on.

And I sent it to a friend, so if I do get grumpy and delete-button-happy, it won't be gone for good.

What really frustrates me is that I haven't had anything published except in Metior for maybe more than a year. And that makes me almost want to pack it in and get a real job. (See? Bad mood.)

But because you can't do anything about that at 10 34 pm, I did something else instead. I took a story I've been sitting on for ages and deleted a huge part of it.

And it really does feel like committing a murder.

1 comment:

  1. I'm starting to get into a routine of rewriting. I'd had problems in the past where I really liked a particular phrase, but in the context of the story, keeping it just made no sense whatsoever. But I've really come to love the rewriting process. It's like going out into the garden and digging the dirt for the sole purpose of turning it over, making it more fresh, seeing another side of the story. But instead of more dirt, there's something amazing you'll find as soon as you start turning the dirt. I used to think, and I guess, to some extent I still do, that those people who say that a piece of creative fiction can never be truly finished were wrong. You can write something and edit it until the cows come home, and then send it away and get it published, and at that point, I'd call it done. Everything has its limits. I sometimes look back on the stuff I wrote two years ago, one year ago, last month, or even yesterday, and ask myself why I would do such a thing. I don't think I've really killed babies by flat out just deleting them from my computer, but I've certainly parked my car at the edge of a lake, taken the handbrake off and left them to drown. I'm ok with it.


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