Tweaks, Changes…Bleh…

I don’t know of anybody – and I mean, anybody – who enjoys editing and rewriting his own work. Cannibalizing what you’ve toiled over is a self-defeating concept. Like all the work was for naught. Now, additions and upgrades are another matter. For example, if I built a house, I wouldn’t mind putting in a porch; adding a deck; or trading in a nasty old couch for a new one. Those are all necessary improvements. Changes put forth in order to make things better. But when it comes to editing, rewriting, or just plain starting over – I hate it. It’s a loathsome process; one that never takes as long as I’d like, nor does it translate with the same results as my first draft. Still, it must be done. And still, I must go on with the understanding that it’s simply a part of the process.

Case in point, my local writer’s group put the screws to my latest work just this past weekend. They’ve been helping me by reading through the first draft of a novel I’ve been hashing out. A novel I’ve been creating for almost 9 months (yes, 9 stinking months), but it all came to a head last week when several parties involved said, “You need to go back and edit a lot of this.” And grudgingly, I agreed with them.

Ugh.

Imagine painting a five-story building – by yourself – and when you’re finished, you realize you used the wrong color. That’s the type of feeling I got. And what’s worse, I agreed with them. I knew that it needed some tweaks. I knew that it needed some changes. I knew that it needed a new coat of paint, so to speak. But my first reaction was this: ain’t no way I’m doing that again

I’ve always been good at getting my first draft done “well”. Like a good chef, I don’t need to grill four or five burgers until I get the proper patty. One shot and I’m done. But taking on a project such as this has made me understand – or rather, come to grips with – my own shortcomings as a writer. The first draft is never perfect. And if it is, you may be kidding yourself. There’s always some blind spot the writer is missing. So lucky for me, I have another set of eyes to poke and prod at what I’m doing. That way, before it gets to final print, I’ll know I’ve put the story through its proper paces.

But until that time, it’s back to the rewrites and revisions. Doing so with as much joy as I can muster. Which may be even harder than the rewrite itself….