Jun 19, 2014

My descent into editing hell

I like writing. That's why I write. That's why I'm writing this.

It would be nice if my writing was amazingly good, but it's not. It's good enough. I need to remind myself of that, because otherwise I don't finish what I write. Worse, I descend into my own, private editing hell.

Here's how it works:

I start writing when I find something that interests me and which might be interesting or useful to others. If the topic is an introspective one, as this one is, I've got time to do some unconstrained writing. If the topic is a factual one, as this one is not, I'll soon find a fact that needs checking. I'll start to Google and I won't quit until my mind's been buried under an avalanche of fact.

Why?  Because ignorance is a disease and I don't want to be a carrier. And because I don't want to be wrong. Or because it's a bad habit. Whatever the reason, my obsession with knowing everything about whatever I am writing about is one of the things that gets in my way.

The other is editing. I'm a good editor of others' work, and a lousy editor of my own. When I edit others' work then unless the structure of a piece is utterly, horribly, hopelessly broken--which it rarely it is--I leave the structure alone. I make small corrections and improvements. I wordsmith. Change voice. Reverse the order of two phrases. Add or remove transitions.

But no wholesale rewriting. Ever. It's my job to edit. Not to rewrite.

I might turn a piece back to its author, then read it again when the author's done with it, but I always I keep my editing within those boundaries.  Wordsmithing. Transitions. But no rewrites.

That discipline breaks when I edit my own writing. I start out following the rules I use for others but pretty soon it's open season on rewriting. I edit and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite until I've boiled away all the joy I started with. I end up with too many versions of the same piece, no one of which seems substantially better than any of the rest. Beginnings and middles, and no end.

The pattern's now clear to me.

I need to pretend someone else wrote this.

Good job, someone else.  You can post it now.

Jun 11, 2014

Failure is inevitable. Because death.

A picture of the hot house at the Botanical ga...
A picture of the hot house at the Botanical gardens. The hedge at the front said " Sex + Death" I have no idea what this means only that they are the 2 things in life that are truly inevitable (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
No escaping it. We're all going to die. That includes me, but that's not important--except to me, my family and friends. But 'we' includes you, and that's important--at least to you, your family, and your friends.

Point is, death is inevitable, and death is the ultimate failure. Therefore failure is inevitable.

So what?

So maybe (I'm talking to myself here, but you're welcome to listen in) small failures are not such a big deal. And the big failure at the end? Also not such a big deal, given the way that the game is rigged.

Failure is the price we pay to play the game. And assuming you're having a good game, it's not too high a price.