It’s the story, Stupid

My life got a ton busy the last week… so I’ve been behind on even having time to write something to post. The next two weeks will be spotty with updates, but expect it to get better after June 7th. In the meantime, here is another one.- Jeremy

I have posted in the past that I have a distaste for editors. This feeling is despite not having dealt directly with one for any of my works. I’ve edited myself, have had others (friends) read and comment, and have taken readers’ advice in some of the areas to make revisions. I am not saying that I do this because my first drafts suck, but rather it is because of my own knowledge that I mess things up when I write.

It’s details. I forget eye color of a character. I sometimes change locations in the middle of a scene without warning. I don’t write what I am seeing in my head which leads to grammatical errors. I lose track of timing, or characters. Overuse of adverbs, etc. Nobody writes perfectly, so that’s why we have editors right?

Imagine my surprise when I saw a post linked on The Passive Voice where someone argues quite well to screw editing at all, to just publish the first draft and be done. Now for someone like me who gets bogged down for YEARS with editing, it appears like a good proposition, right? It certainly falls in line with a statement I put on my last notebook:

“It will never be good enough; so let it be good enough.”

It took me nearly a decade to just stop revising and rewriting and rejecting my first full novel published “The Good Teacher.” It’s taking me nearly 2 years now and I am no closer to being done editing Gravity part 3 than I was right after writing it. I am a year past when I placed The Dangerous Life of Agnes Pyle onto revision status. It is taking me FAR longer to be done editing than it is to just write the damn things.

Problem is, I am just not comfortable doing as that writer suggested and dropping editing altogether. I know I make mistakes; I want to fix my mistakes.

I have to remind myself of the statement above. It will never be good enough. Someone will find errors no matter how long I spend searching. I find errors in books I read all of the time. It might trip me up and drop me out of the story for a moment, but that is the writer in me, the perfectionist. As long as the story is good, I could not care less about those errors. They don’t stick with me.

When it boils down to essentials, even the Queen herself, JK Rowling, doesn’t write with the same talent as the likes of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, or Shakespeare. Few people do. But then again, did they write well for their time? Were they on point with grammar and all that for what was accepted in their day? Well maybe they were… but many times, modern popularity and true longevity are two separate things. People are not recognized as greats until after their death and others who are seen as great in life (aka popular) end up forgotten.

Twilight, Hunger Games… two of the biggest hits of the last decade were often panned for their writing. But that didn’t stop them from making millions.

I am not trying to make millions. I am trying to write and hopefully edge out a living doing so. Millions would be nice, but I don’t see that as a factor in my happiness going forward. If anything, making millions would bring stress I don’t care to have… but I digress.

It’s all about the story. And I think I have that. In several of my works that is what the people who have read it say. They don’t say much negative if anything negative about the writing, but that doesn’t mean that my writing is any good. It just means that the story is what they want, what they enjoyed.

It really is about the story, stupid. (By the way, “Stupid” is me.)

Although I don’t agree entirely with the post, there is a definitive point to be had about not looking too closely at the work in editing. Were I not as concerned over perfection as I have been, I’d have at least 5 more published works already done on top of what I’ve done so far. Instead I am stuck on 5, only averaging 1 ¼ books per year. But I let myself get stuck in the mud.

Again there is a definite need sometimes for editing, or reviewing. I think that it does go overboard. I take it overboard in my need to see the work as perfect. And I will never be in the same realm as Hemingway (or insert great writer here).

Perfection doesn’t exist except in the story.

I need to focus more on the story and less on thinking that the grammar will fix the story.

I might just try to cut a good portion of the worry out of my editing process for a few pieces to see how it works. Just a couple of read-through’s to catch the big errors… such as a scene taking place on a station orbiting Titan only to have it be taking place on Rhea instead in the middle of the scene (I just caught that one more than halfway through Gravity 3). Taking less time editing should allow me to push more of what I already have out to the world. We’ll see how it all works.

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