IWSG: Editing is for lesser beings, right?

1st Wednesday of the month is Insecure Writers Support Group, a monthly blog-hop, where writers have permission to whine and we take full advantage of this :)

I hate editing. There I said it. Before I had an actually work-in-progress, I imagined that the editing process would involve meeting my editor in a sun soaked cafe in L.A. I'd slide my Michael Kors** sunglasses off my face and air kiss my obsequious editor who would slide the manuscript across the table and express her shock and joy that every manuscript has been so well written that she has not needed to edit a single one. Then she'd let me know that I was contacted by two more movie studios who are dying to make my novels into feature films. From there I wax on about my art and how I would never sell my artistic integrity to Hollywood.

Apparently when I imagine being a romance writer, I think I'm Mary Fisher, living in a pink palace by the sea, except without the nervous break down that leads her to write a romance with a hero named Bob. 

 
 

As it turns out, editing is less glamorous than you'd imagine. When I signed on to be a writer, I had no idea that anyone would actually have anything negative to say about my work. I mean, how ridiculous. I'm clearly a frickin' savant of writing. My 7th grade writing teacher said so. My best friend nods when I say so. It must be true. So why, WHY do I need to take all the those glorious words, those fantastic characters and those genius love scenes and criticize them? Doesn't that seem a tad unreasonable? I mean, isn't revision for amateurs? Everyone knows that real writers complete perfect manuscripts the first time around, right?

 

Oh, shut up, Joker. 

 

Turns out, I might have been mistaken. Other writers have assured me that no one writes perfect manuscripts. They are, by nature, bumpy, lumpy messes that must be beaten until smooth. And mine is worse than most because I wrote my novel during NaNoWriMo. If that combination of letters means nothing to you, it's National Novel Writing Month. Every November thousands of insane people from all over the world decide that it's a good idea to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days. People often ask me, "Why would you do that?" The short answer? I'm clearly a masochist. The long answer? I'm SERIOUSLY a masochist.

NaNoWriMo is actually a lot of fun. You go to local meet ups with other writers and you do contests like fifteen minute timed "sprints" and the winners get stickers and emotional validation. The entire point is to prove that you are capable of writing a novel. You have to turn off the part of your brain that judges your work as good or bad. You learn to turn off your inner editor and just write. Just puke up whatever is in your soul and put it on the paper, no matter how silly or how poorly written it will be. The point is quantity. Quality is irrelevant.

The upside to this is that you end up writing a the bones of a novel. Also you prove to yourself that you are more than capable of doing it and finding time to do it, no matter how busy you are. Also, if you survive the thirty days and still want to write, then you are probably on the right path. Or, you're a bigger masochist than Ana from Fifty Shades. 

 
I should clarify. I know Ana isn't into spanking. Her masochism comes in the form of actually talking to this ass-douche. 

I should clarify. I know Ana isn't into spanking. Her masochism comes in the form of actually talking to this ass-douche. 

 

So the great part is that I can say, whoo hoo, I wrote a novel! Sort of. The downside to that great expulsion of creativity is that I now now have a steaming pile of manure to edit. Because IT IS BAD. Make no mistake. Writing without any editing at all means you end up not with a novel but with the skeleton of the story and all the skeleton's bones are broken and need to be set before you add on the muscles and tendons and all the gross innard type stuff they talk about on Bones.

Basically I have a bunch of disconnected, hurriedly written scenes and I've been writing in circles trying to edit a story that is finished in only the most generous of definitions. I don't actually know what happens in the second act of the story because I never really wrote it. I was in a hurry to get to the end and just listed a bunch of stuff I thought should happen.

I've lived my life as a pantser, not a plotter, meaning I write intuitively (by the seat of my pants) and don't plan or plot my work ahead of time. But now that I'm editing I'm seeing the necessity and beauty of at least having a rudimentary outline of how I'd like the story to be structured. But every time I try to read about HOW to outline a novel, my eyes glaze over and I fill up with the fear that I'm going to destroy the art process by limiting my story.

Yeah, this post is meandering and I don't feel like editing it. Because editing sucks. And yes, I pretty much plan to use every IWSG post to whine about editing. It is way harder than writing a damn book in thirty days.

**Also I'd like it known that I do indeed own a pair of Michael Kors sunglasses that I found at T.J.  Maxx for less than $20 and I have never worn them without namedropping the designer. Mostly because I used to watch Project Runway and I love MK with a fierce passion but also because I'm kind of a douche.