Show Me My Darlings (or, how I feel about editing)


One of the things I’d read in books about conventions was the main characters being annoyed by the questions con goers would ask, like “How do you come up with your ideas?” I thought that that was a pretty silly situation, and couldn’t possibly be true to life. Until I went to my first panel, and one of the girls in the audience asked “how do you make your characters do what you want them to do?” I was flabbergasted. I felt like asking her “seriously? Did you HONESTLY just ask someone how to write? You just do it.” Of course, I didn’t say that, because that would have been incredibly bitchy of me, and I generally try to be a nice person, but I had that moment of wtf that many authors write about.

The author in question replied with “you learn how to kill your darlings.” And, that got me thinking. Now, maybe it’s because of the way I write – it’s mostly first drafts (as I need to find a crit group that will give me ways in which I revise,) and, for the most part, it’s very free form. I “simply” step out of the way of myself, and let my fingers do the work. That’s how I do it, anyway. And, maybe, because of this, I don’t really feel like I’m doing the writing. I’m half convinced that there’s some muse who’s working my fingers and keyboard and saying what I’m putting down. (Not really – I’m a fantasy writer. I get to be creative. Unless, it really is true, in which case, I owe her about ten tons of burned incense.)

In any case, while I might be incredibly proud of something I’ve written (’cause, damn, my muse can create some wonderful things,) nothing that I write, to me, is indelible. Nothing is sacred. Let it all burn! ….well, some of it. Maybe. If there’s a good reason for it. And I was presented with theĀ changes in a gentle fashion. And if I get chocolate.

Really, I don’t think that any writer actually enjoys revising their work and editing. If they did, they’d be editors, instead of writers. (Although, as I’ve learned, many are both, and quite good at both.) But, for me, it’s the creative spark that makes me want to do what I do. It’s creating something out of the ether. I don’t want to revisit things I’ve already done, and changing them – I’ve already told that story. Let me move on to something new! But, as they say, writing is really 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration. I’m ready to start with the work outs of revision. Show me my darlings, and I’ll show you some corpses.

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