Tearing apart your work is never easy. It is like tearing yourself apart. Every word ripped from the story can feel like it is being ripped out of your heart. Yes. I know it’s hard. I know it’s tedious. I also know it has to be done. But my work will never be worth sharing if I don’t.
When I printed my book out this month, my first thought was “I wrote all that?” My second thought was “I have to revise all that?” I think revising and editing can be even harder than getting something on paper the first time. I mean, what if it was better before I started fooling with it?
If you are afraid you will need something, or just can’t bear to let it go, cut and save it in another document. You can visit it from time to time, until you are ready to let it go, or find a place it wants to live. And live is what your work does. It has a life of it’s own. You may be the creator, but the work often dictates where it wants to go.
My first draft of my novel didn’t have a subplot that worked. I had to come up with another one. I came up with a subplot I liked, which involved introducing a new character that wasn’t in the original draft. I was trying to come up with a name for him.
Sam. No. John. No. Jake. No. Doug. No. Peter. No. William. No. Doug. No. I already said that didn’t go with his last name. I couldn’t change that because he was the brother of my main character. I tried again. Larry. No. Tim. No. Doug. I said no! Pat. No. Joe. No. Roy. No. Doug. Okay. Okay. I get it. Your name is Doug. Geez, you don’t have to be so insistent.
That is the kind of thing I am talking about when I say the work dictates. The characters tell you if they are acting out of character. They can tell you what they want to do. They may even name themselves. Go with it. They won’t let you ignore them anyway.
Does it sound like I am insane? I don’t know anyone in this world that is completely sane. Writers, even less. It’s part of the makeup required to succeed as a writer. After all, what sane person thinks they can do it? It’s too much of a long shot. Do something that pays the bills.
That’s why most writers have another job. They have to pay the bills. Very few make it to the point they can make a living by writing. For every J. K. Rowling, you will find a million more writers who could only dream of her success. Don’t aspire to be J. K. Rowling. Aspire to be you. If you don’t do it, who else will?