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.