For the last few weeks I’ve been very slowly but surely editing my hopefully-soon-to-be-published-and-successful book, which is the first in a (hopefully) long series of fantasy. And honestly, from the alcoves of my heart and the nooks my mind, there is nothing harder, nothing more self-destructive and debilitating than editing your own book.
It’s just terribly difficult to read your own work and edit it. First of all, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. From the Nancy Drews and Hardy Boys my dad would buy me to read on long drives, to the first time I ever opened a Harry Potter book as a young boy, I just knew that I wanted to do something like this. But I never believed in myself – why should I? Thousands of people write stuff. Go to any site like fanfiction.net or any sister sites and you can see thousands upon thousands of stories, all written by a person who had the same hopes and dreams as I, the same wishes and… the same everything. As a person who doesn’t like wasting his time, why should I pursue a path that millions have failed at? There’s nothing special about me.
But I just changed my mind one day and decided to log out of the video games and just write. I wrote everyday. I wrote until my fingers bled off. I wrote when I didn’t feel like it, because I knew that waiting for inspiration was bullshit. I wrote when I had headaches and I wrote when I’d want nothing other than to stop writing. And eventually, after tens of thousands of words and countless nights spent creating a world out of thin air, I made it.
And I’m proud of it. So proud that I’ve decided that I’m going to edit it, brush it up, make sure it’s as amazing as I can possibly make it, and send manuscripts out. What I didn’t realize was, however, the path of utter self-hatred I would have to embark on as soon as I thought I was “done”.
Editing is like a worse version of dieting. Dieters wake up every morning, look in the mirror, and remind themselves, “You’re a fat ass, and no, you can’t have that chocolate muffin.” If editing was dieting, then a person would instead wake up every morning, look in the mirror, smash his face in the mirror, and then proceed to cut his fat off with the shards of broken glass. (And I think I’d prefer this – at least then I’d only have to do it once before they send me to the mental institute.)
With self-editing, you have to look at your own work, the stuff you spent months of work on, and you have to crap on it. You have to hate it. You have to see every error, every little tiny mistake and every word that makes you feel like a pretentious douche, and you have to fix it. You start to wonder, “did I really write this? How the hell was I so bad?” And when you start to wonder that, you question the validity of your decision to ever start writing in the first place.
But, in an effort to not make this post longer than it already is, I’m still going somewhat strong with the editing. Every now and then I edit something that makes me forget I’m not even old enough legally drink, and I really just have to smile. I smile because it makes me believe that maybe my dreams will come true someday – to work from home, writing the 3rd or 4th book in my fantasy series, and just to know, some people actually like my writing. I think that’s all I really want, to inspire some kids the way other authors inspired me.
“With only the stars by his side, he wondered what they were, and why they shone every night. He wondered if the sky stretched as long as the ground below it, or if maybe, there was a corner of land somewhere that had no sky or stars, and he wondered what that place was like.”