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Textual nightmares: or, some ways you can not suck at editing by learning from my mistakes

By on May 5, 2009 in aldersgate cycle, fantasy, publication, queen of none, Uncategorized, WIP, writing | 2 comments

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Writing novels is not my problem. My output has only improved in the last few years, and I’ve finally moved beyond the whining about not having time, or making every excuse in the world not to write stage. Those were big hurdles for me, and I’m proud of the accomplishment. I generally make my 1K goal every day, with a few exceptions, and I love telling the stories.

So what’s the problem, right?

Unfortunately, what’s resulted is lots of first drafts, and not completed novels. As a writer who fumbles around in the dark putting pieces together, this is truly problematic as editing, the next step in the process, just opens up all sorts of new and strange writing problems and therefore, inevitably, leads me toward a complete creative freeze.

I have approached editing three drastically different ways for the last three completed drafts. With The Aldersgate, I rewrote everything. I think I saved just over 3K of the original 100K book, and ended up somewhere around 150K (which is still too long). With Pilgrim of the Sky I did a direct edit, three times through; didn’t re-write, so much as restructured. This worked well, but burned me out, and literally left textual imprints on my retinas.

Then came Queen of None. I wrote this book in about five weeks, just after my sister’s cancer diagnoses. Read: therapy. After finishing the edits on Pilgrim I went right to it, and was disappointed by pretty much the entire book, or at least the chapters I’d managed to get through.

So… forging on. I’m going to make a list (haha, this is not my typical approach) and rate my projects in order, and spend some time really considering a) marketability b) reality and c) creative attachment. I’ve got to work on something I love, and it’s got to be worth my time. Maybe that sounds a little uninspired, but clearly my free-as-a-bird approach isn’t working. I need a little drill sergeant in my life.

I’ve been writing novel-length stuff since I was twelve, and I’ve got to say, I still feel like a total n00b.

  • Merrilee Faber

    So what did you end up choosing?

    • Natania

      Actually started work on another project, and it’s helped. Contemplating other angles in the meantime. Sometimes my best way out of a rut is just writing enough to fill it up!

      Still haven’t decided what to do about the edit, however. We’ll see.

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