Let me make this clear: this is not a post of me complaining. It’s just something I’ve realized in the last few months…
Dorothy Parker said something wise about writing:
“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style.”
Very wise words. I’ve read the book by E.B. Strunk, and it’s genius in its simplicity.
However, she doesn’t stop there:
“The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”
And I’d have to say I agree with her on that note!
When you start out as a writer, you have high-faluting notions of writing the next great masterpiece–or at least something people will want to read. You put the story down on paper or a Word document, and you pat yourself on the back because it’s AMAZING. Or so you tell yourself.
Send it off to the editor, get to work on your next project, and wait for it to come back. When the manuscript is finally returned, it’s COVERED in red marks and corrections.
Two weeks later, you’re barely a couple of chapters into the editing, and you’re groaning, saying, “Why, oh God, did I ever become a writer?”
Writing starts off as a lot of fun, as a way to share your inner self and tell that story that’s bursting out of you. After a while, you realize that this notion of “fun” is something only newbies have. All good writers come to realize that writing is lot of freaking hard work!
There’s the rough draft, which means putting the story down on paper. Then there’s the first draft, which is polished and made readable so you can send it off to beta-readers. Then you get those notes back, and you may have to overhaul entire portions of the story (I had to basically redo the last half of my latest book) thanks to the notes from your beta readers. Then you go over it and do a second draft, all so that you can send it off to the editor–who will return it to you covered in red marks and force you to edit it to make it ready for (hopefully) the final draft. Of course, if you submit it to a publisher, chances are their editor will slice and dice it as well.
As you can see, writing is a lot of work! The difference between most of the writers who publish garbage and the ones who actually put out good stuff is the work involved. The great writers are the ones who power through even when that “fun” becomes “work”–the boring, dull kind of re-reading a manuscript for the third or fourth time.
Seeing as I want to be a good writer, I’m going back in to do another edit!