Monday, May 18, 2009

Too Many Metaphors for One Post...

I had a whole post ready to go about my weekend... about what I wanted to be doing this weekend (going to the Joint Services Air Show at Andrews Air Force Base, walking around awesome jets and helicopters and military men, and taking amazing photos of them flying... these are from our trip out last year, before I got the new and better camera... I really, really wanted to be there this year to get better photos with my new and better camera!!)...

But what I did instead was clean the house - namely my daughter's room, which she had taken upon her six year old self to reorganize and it closely resembled the local dump, with higher quality stuff...

And while I'm quite sure there is a great metaphor for writing in there somewhere, I'm going to skip that and head right into something else I read today.

Janet Reid directed me to Courtney Summer's blog post about the editing process. And while I'm not there yet, boy oh boy did I identify... and surprisingly find a bit of encouragement.

I loved this part:

If I don’t make note somewhere about how hard they were to write–because they’re all hard to write–I would never believe they gave me any problems at all. The euphoria of finishing acts like a pleasant amnesia ray, which I’m assuming is a kind of mental suit of armor designed to keep me writing books.

Which reminds me of labor and giving birth, which makes sense, because writing a book has often been compared to giving birth (which makes the book the baby, which then becomes the object of the common editing phrase, "You gotta kill the baby," which is really just perverse and sick and begs the question... huh??? Could we as writers not come up with a better metaphor??)

But I digress.

The thing is, this book I'm writing is really hard. It's like pulling teeth. Or cleaning a six year olds' room. Every word is hard. And it's easy to think that the last book just poured out of me so naturally and easily. Which I'm sure it didn't. And remembering that would help tremendously every time I think I need to give up this one because something this hard just can't be a good book in the end.

Which bring me to the editing part of the post. She did major editing. Like spring cleaning a six-year old's room editing. Like "lets take this manuscript and put out three boxes - one for stuff to throw out, one for stuff to take out of the room but maybe keep for something else, and one for stuff to deal with. Now lets take all that stuff that's left to deal with and find a new place for it, clean it off if it's dusty or covered in the sticky stuff that's left when you remove stickers from places they shouldn't have been, let's vacuum out all the excess lint and dust bunnies and webs and polish it all off to a shine!"

(Look at that! There was a writing metaphor there after all!)

What I most found encouraging was the even though the first draft of her book was in very rough condition, even though it got a major overhaul and replotted, reworked, rewritten, she ended up with something she is very proud of.

So even though my writing right now is tough... even though I fear it may not be the book I want to end up with, I can't rewrite it better until I'm done with it, and actually have something to work on.

So time to stop whining and wondering and second guessing and just get to work.

When I've finally birthed it I can kill it.

(yeah... I still don't like that metaphor!)


  1. Great post, it took me a while to be able to kill those little darlings but it was almost a relief when I was able to without even flinching.

    I've started writing the second book and I wonder why it's not easier after all I've learned with the first book.

  2. I know editing is a pain. I'm even worse. I'm having troubles just finishing the first draft!

    Great post.

  3. Fantastic post Heidi.

    I'm in a bit of a "editing/writing" phase since I've had some changes and right now I feel as if I just walked into the six year old's room, flabbergasted and utterly overwhelmed.

  4. Patti - Oh isn't that the truth???? How come it's not getting easier??

    Paul - me too! having two books down doesn't make this third easier to finish. This is a messy first draft!

    Brit - I hope you are having fun editing rewriting! And flabbergasted is exactly the right word for walking into a six year old's room that has been "creatively redesigned." :)

  5. This is a great reminder for me as I jump back into a first-draft project that I've been working on. Sometimes I get too hung up on trying to find just the right word, and I forget that the first draft (for me, anyway) is just a way to get the story out there. And then I can go back through and clean and polish it up (and hack away at it, as needed) until it's something worth sharing.

    Thanks Heidi!!! I needed this post today! :)

  6. LOL! I agree, totally!

    (And that metaphor bothers me too)