Previously I compared rewriting and editing to washing the dishes. For me, writing that first draft is like enjoying a fine meal. The editing part–washing the dishes. That dreaded task where you realize that the perfect story you created in your head somehow didn’t translate so well onto “paper.” Your perfect meal resulted in a sink full of burned pots and food scraps that clog the drain. Your Great American Novel read like crapola on a cracker, served with a side of bad grammar and plot holes as wide as the Delaware Water Gap.
Rewriting. Ugh! Screw the Fairy Godmother! Where’s the Editing Fairy when you need her? I would like to barf out a draft and wake up to perfection, courtesy of the fairy.
But, alas, writing wouldn’t be as rewarding without the rewrite. Heck, everyone would be a writer if all it took was banging out a first draft. Rewriting separates the women from the girls, the men from the boys, the writers from the “aspirers.” The pots and pans resulting from the gourmet meal from the bag of empty disposable cardboard from fast food.
I have a lot of rewriting to do this summer. My project with Angela, a screenplay, was ripped apart by an expert (rightly so). I have various projects in draft form, including two novels and a collection of short stories. I feel them calling me like abandoned orphans: “Jess! Don’t forget about us! You loved us once. Don’t leave us to waste away on your C drive!”
I’ll tell ya. I’m tempted. Other ideas, fresh ideas, parade through my head wanting my attention, begging me to plaster them into a new document on my MacBook, dying for me to let them out. NaNoWriMo is teasing me for a November try. They are all so hard to resist!
But I will resist. I owe it to my abandoned orphans to wash the dishes and clean up the messes. Someday you may come visit my house, and I wouldn’t want you to see my sink in that condition. Someday you may seek to read my stuff, and I wouldn’t want you to see my first drafts in their condition.
So wish me luck. If you know the Editing Fairy, send her my way. Please!
I leave you with some quotes on rewriting, which I found on about.com (link: http://grammar.about.com/od/advicefromthepros/a/rewritequotes.htm.) in a post by Richard Nordquist.
If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.
(Elmore Leonard, Newsweek, April 22, 1985)
I have rewritten–often several times–every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.
(Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory, Random House, 1966)
I work extremely hard so that [my editor] will not have to work extremely hard. I write and rewrite and rewrite and write and like to turn in what I think is finished work.
(Gay Talese, “Birnbaum v. Gay Talese,” The Morning News, July 6, 2006)
The main thing I try to do is write as clearly as I can. I rewrite a good deal to make it clear.
(E.B. White, The New York Times, August 3, 1942)
Thanks for reading. Have a nice night.
14 thoughts on “Washing The Dishes-Rewriting”
“Crapola on a cracker” and the editing fairy made me laugh out loud. Good luck with your edits and re-writing! Wonder if having someone to dry and put away the dishes after helps it go faster, a la really good readers?
Good point about the readers- the washers and dryers! I love it.
Ah yes, editing, where you realize the words you used don’t communicate the intended thought except back to you. And then, later, when you discover that even the intended thought wasn’t quite good enough. Worse when your favorite sentences get ripped out because, beautiful as they are, they don’t serve we’ll enough.
Editing, part 2: afterwards when I realize how pompous this comment really is!
Ha! No not pompous. True. I hate reading things back and realizing how the stuff in my head didn’t make it through to the paper. If only you could all just read my thoughts . . . on second thought, maybe that’s not the best idea either!
I’m so bad at editing my own work – I see what I want to see. It’s a huge flaw and I have to really slow down, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written or posted something that made perfect sense in my mind; however, when putting the thought to paper I totally failed – but didn’t see it cause I saw what I wanted to see! Does that make sense? LOL
Thanks goodness I’m not a writer! Good luck to you Jess!
Excellent post, as always!! I have an editing fairy, but you know that already 😉
🙂 Barf it out, baby!
I would love to have an editor fairy. UGH!! Writing the master’s paper involved multiple rewrites… but the final draft was actually very good, and it passed on Thursday. The First draft is my favorite draft… the final draft is, of course, the best draft… but first draft is normally the most fun for me to write. however… once the point of my paper “clicked” in my head, the final draft of the master’s paper was somewhat fun to write
Staples needs to make an “easy button” for editing 😉
Yay! Congrats on passing! I will check out your site and see what you’ve been up to since. (Love the Staples easy button idea too!)
I totally agree that rewriting is tiresome but at the end of it you feel happy about how much your story has improved. anyways, Happy Writing!
Thank you! You are right– the end product is worth the work.
Well put and good luck with the re-write!
Thanks! It’s all progressing. Glad to be back on WordPress tonight checking things out.