“It is perfectly okay to write garbage–as long as you edit brilliantly.” -C.H. Cherryh
I’ve been doing a lot of editing and digging up old pieces and trying to make them sparkle and shiny and new again, so quotes about editing in particular have been appealing to me lately. Mostly because, while I’m editing, anything I’m writing is suffering and I feel that anything I’m putting out isn’t up to the level it should be because most of my focus is going into editing, or, in the case of Serpent in a Cage, completely rewriting. Which I definitely consider “edit[ing] brilliantly.”
How many first drafts are actually fairly good? I know there are some people who can throw something down on a paper and it’s awesome from the get-go. I know some people write in a way that they ensure that what they have is quality before moving on. In a way, I admire that kind of dedication to excellence, but part of me, going along with this quote, thinks that’s a little silly. Then again, I’m loving the editing process; I thoroughly enjoy going through my massive rough draft and polishing it up, raking through it to keep the good parts and change the bad ones. I’ve always felt that making sure it’s right the first time would actually not take as much time, but there’s still always going to be something you’ll want to change. As I’m going through my short stories, there hasn’t been a single one I haven’t tweaked or changed or altered in some way, even the ones that I’ve already been tweaking and changing and altering for years.
So don’t be afraid to just write, even if it’s utter crap. It’s still writing, and even a diamond starts out as a dirty piece of coal*, so you’ll have plenty of time to edit brilliantly later. This is advice I’m giving myself, as well, as I sit on the cusp of three things I’m thinking of completely scraping because I’m not pleased with them. But if I just keep writing, maybe later I’ll find that it wasn’t so much the writing that needs to be improved, but the editing.
I’d also like to take a moment to thank and welcome Snagglewordz, my newest subscriber! Welcome aboard, glad to have you along, there may even be some in-flight peanuts later on in the trip! I have a feeling I’m going to really enjoy your blog, too!
*(I was going to go with a different analogy here, but decided to be nice. You’re welcome).