Cursing My Manuscript

It bleeds purple.

There are numerous reasons I’m a little frustrated tonight. I’m on page 21 of 388. That’s great progress considering I was on page five yesterday. However, the page to the left is about what all my pages look like. That large x you see? The pages with the least amount of editing just have a couple of those on them.

I know I just wrote about this, but I’m dramatic and I think a visual of the stink I had written is quote shocking. To see that there are currently 21 pages that look about as bad, many of them far worse, makes me hang my head in shame. I’ve already created five new characters, which may or may not show up again in the future. I’m creating sticky notes of scenes that need a home and sticking them in where I hope they’ll fit. I’ve already likely added enough scenes to impregnate my story with another five thousand words, and she’s already well past her nine month due date. I’m furious and pleased all at the same time. However, there’s a reason I’m posting this again, and it’s not just for your pity, though my horribly busy and heartbroken soul does deserve your pity. Maybe.

I am cursing my manuscript. It wasn’t well thought out enough, it has too many plot holes, I wrote it with too much emotion, and it’s absolute rubbish. As the woman who helped spawn this story stated, the story is incredible. The issue is my writing is wretched, and for this I curse the manuscript and my own inability to see what I was writing in the heat of those passionate, angst filled moments. Then, while originally editing this piece, I was attempting to rush this out the door in order to win someone’s heart. However, I’ve learned a great deal in the past two weeks, and I wish to share it with those reading this.

First, as one professor told me, let emotions cool. You can always write in the moment, but then shove that poem, story, novel, ballad, in a closet. It must be a dark closet full of hidden things you don’t want the world to see, a place where you feel so sure of yourself finding anything hidden in that closet that you forget you even put the piece of paper in there. Then, when you’re older and going through your old garbage and find that work of art, redo it with your emotions no longer driving the creative process. It will be more refined, people will more easily understand it, and it won’t be emotional vomit. Blogs are full of emotional vomit people can read for free (and I post it all over the place on mine). People want to pay for well thought out, concise, brilliant writing. It’s a bit like a restaurant, but I’ll let you fill in the analogy.

Next, do not rush. In the writing process, perhaps shoot through it a little, but once you start editing go over it time and time again. Make it perfect and beautiful. Let it shine. People will read what you wrote. They will judge you on it. If you wrote a great first book, people will remember that. If you proved to your audience to have the writing capabilities of a third grader, they will remember your name so they never accidentally buy your book. If you wrote a mediocre book that was forgettable, at least you get a second chance.

Finally, we are all horrible writers. I’ve heard this over and over again and took it with a grain of salt. I knew I needed editing and that this path wasn’t easy, but with how this current story is turning out and how revolutionary the editing process has been for the story overall, I realized I’m a horrible writer. I am a truly wretched writer. When I put my mind to it, however, I’m a brilliant editor. Accept that you are a horrible writer (with amazing ideas). Understand that you are a brilliant editor.

A friend, Christine, posted a comment on one of my other posts (the other one from today). She stated that we as writers allocate months to the writing process, and then mere weeks to editing. If you are taking weeks to edit what took you months to write, go back to the drawing board, you’re doing it wrong. This story took me six weeks to write. I’ve already given half that time in months to editing, and will likely at least take six months to finish the process.

I’ve seen a lot of self published books which seem to suffer from a lack of editing. I’ve read many books which looked like they were halfway done with editing, said what are we all waiting for, and shot it out to production. Like shooting a man out of the circus cannon naked. It’s a really cool idea until someone needs to see that mess. People will remember that circus forever, and not in a good way. Do not be that ring leader.

I’m just trying to say I hate my $%&#(@$ manuscript. You might hate yours too. Perhaps the truth of it is if you don’t reach a point where you want to take your pen and just stab the %#!@ out of the stack of papers, you’re not doing it right. Maybe we’re all to curse our child, to blame it for not doing a better job of letting us live vicariously through it. To blame it for not better revealing what we really meant. But at the end of the day, even if we call it hurtful names, love your writing. Hold it dearly after ripping it apart and revealing to it all the inadequacies. Because ultimately your child will grow up to be far better than the child with a parent that just pushed it out the door without cursing it once.

With that, it’s bed time. As much as I’d love to continue editing and cursing at this sheet of paper, I’m exhausted. Peaceful writings and remember to flog your literary child regularly. You’ll both be better people for it.

3 Comments on “Cursing My Manuscript

  1. Take a break for a little bit. Then go back and know the heart of the story IS there. You’ve come this far and you can pull it together!

    • Thanks for looking at my blog! Unfortunately I’ve already spent a lot of time away from it. It’s just me realizing where I was when I wrote it and coming to terms with where I am now both as a writer and emotionally with the relationship the book’s about.

  2. Keep at it, Paul! Editing is by far the toughest, most draining part of writing a novel, but it’s also the most important. You can do it, dude! 🙂

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