I don’t know how many of you are crafters or enjoy sparkly things, but I am a big fan of glitter. When I was growing up, one of my favorite things to do to my friends was to put glitter in their birthday cards. I know, I know. So archaic. What are birthday cards even? That thing your grandmother gives you with the annual expectation of some birthday cash? Seriously though – glitter in cards is fun because it’s pretty, and if the recipient isn’t expecting it, it tends to get everywhere and stay there forever.
Don’t worry – people got me back for this little sparkly prank. My first car – a used ’98 Mitsubishi Mirage that insisted on giving me financial heart attacks every couple months – had violet glitter all over the passenger’s seat for most of its life.
What does glitter have to do with writing, you ask?
For me, writing fiction is a lot like a glitter bomb. It’s so much fun to create – you anticipate the story, the characters. You giggle at your own jokes and references. The art of creating things is inherently satisfying – to get the film reel in your head out on actual, tangible paper. I love it. I love how it feels to hold a finished, printed manuscript. I love to watch my word count go up. I love the feeling of cleverness that comes with knowing the ending of a story at the beginning and knowing that I want to deeply frustrate people on that journey.
It’s the illusion that I am ever so slightly brilliant and this will be funny and sparkly and pretty and wonderful.
I love to write. It makes me so happy to unwrap scenes and dialogue like presents, especially fantasy where I can have my hero flick her wrist and send armored knights sideways into a tree like they are nothing more than fallen leaves. It’s so satisfying to create a world that is better than our own and characters that can do the things I cannot.
Once that story is down on the paper, though, the real work starts.
It’s the glitter all over my car. Stuck in the crevices of my Converse All-Stars. Sparkling in my hair and I don’t even know how it got there.
Creating something is the easy part for me. The rainbow shimmer of my imagination twisted together with the allure of descriptive language sets my heart aflame. But dismantling that? Poking the less purposeful characters in the back with a cutlass so they’ll walk the plank? That I do not enjoy. It’s very easy for me to tear apart my manuscripts, and very challenging for me to put them back together. Just like it’s incredibly difficult to clean up all the glitter.
I have done it exactly twice, this leveling of the city and starting anew. From start to finish, I have edited Fate and to this day those characters, that story, and that world is my absolute heart song. It is still a long way from perfect, but I don’t regret the editorial choices I made. I also did it with my first ever NaNo Novel – Strange. Strange is HYDRA’s Human Enhancement Project meets every-boarding-school-YA-book-from-the-2000s. There was so much satisfaction in writing it (proving to one of my college professors that I could write a first draft in a month was highly satisfying) and again, editing it made Strange a much better story. The plot is smoother, the relationships more pronounced, a romantic relationship revealed itself that is perfect and complicated and now one of my favorite parts of the story.
Knowing this tried and true fact that editing enhances stories…. I still avoid it. I am constantly lured by the promise of new characters and new worlds. I have so many ideas for stories I want to write, I have a whole book of them.
I keep writing because it’s easy, and editing is hard, and if I finish editing I have to dive into the unknown sea of querying and disappointment and to quote Back to the Future, “I just don’t think I could take that kind of rejection”. My second drafts are unceremoniously tucked between fear and laziness, shrouded beneath temptation of new adventure, and left to rot.
It’s something I want to work on, that I’ve been telling myself to work on for years. And yet, I’m still tempted by the rich fudge ripple of another adventure, another story to tell.
Do you struggle to edit your own manuscripts? Have you been able to pinpoint your reason(s) why? I feel like it’s both so complicated and so simple for me, but I do also wonder if I’m the only one who struggles with this. If you’re like me and you struggle to take the next step in the writing process, let me know in the comments!