So there’s this thing that no one ever really told me about. Not honestly, anyway. This thing that I’m talking about is called “revision” and it’s just the worst part of my life right now.
No, really it is! And here’s why. Because when I was a little girl and I told my mother I wanted to be a writer (this was after she told me she wasn’t taking me to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career at the age of nine) she said, “That’s great! Start writing.” So, y’know, I did. What she should have said was, “Start writing, but don’t get too attached to anything you initially come up with because it will most likely be crap and you’ll get really discouraged upon rereading it.”
Okay, okay…I’m glad she didn’t say that. I’m secretly glad that no one said that for most of my life. Although, really, I think that once I hit college someone out there could have let me in on the little secret that a first draft (even if you spend three years writing it) is usually not the story you’re going to end up with.
So what’s wrong with Mack & Moira?
Okay, that’s maybe an exaggeration. Maybe. And I know I wrote the first section of this book two years ago, but honestly, I feel like it was written by a completely different person. I read somewhere that you should pretend someone else wrote your book so you can revise it objectively…but I mean, do other people actually have to pretend that? Because this is my life. If I hadn’t written this manuscript I would want to find the writer and shake her. But I can’t do that! Because the writer is me!
And maybe I’m being overly critical, but honestly, this is discouraging. Because while I was writing it, my ego must have been driving because I distinctly remember ending more than a few writing days feeling like:
But now that I’m reading it, it’s more like:
Does everyone feel this lost when they first go back and look at their book? Is this normal? I thought the hardest part was going to be being critical and objective but honestly, I'm having a much harder time being kind to myself, reminding myself that people actually did love parts of this book and really did come to love and care about the characters. Thankfully I haven't tried to open the word doc...I don't think I can trust myself with a backspace key at this point.
And I'm just filled with all kind of weird doubts and twisty feelings. Am I not tearing through it because it's not good and because I don't like it? Or am I just stalling because I'm secretly sabotaging myself and this awful process? Because it's not like I'm not reading it because I'm so super busy. Really I'm just distracting myself by not writing anything new and not really enjoying any of the books I've been trying to read for the last three months. What the hell is my problem?!
If I'm going to be home and be entirely unmotivated to do anything else...shouldn't I be kicking this draft's ass and taking names? Or at least changing names and plot lines?
Ugh. I don't know. I don't feel like I know anything anymore. I don't even know what kind of writer I am. Nothing makes sense. This is all just getting horribly discouraging and I'm starting to understand why more writers become alcoholics along the way.
Basically, I think I just need to shut up and get back to work. It's okay if you were thinking the same thing. I think everyone is. Especially the cats. (Obviously. What else do cats do but beg for food and judge you?)
Hopefully these feelings will pass and I'll find myself in the swing of things soon. Right? Please? In the meantime, I guess there's nothing to do but keep plugging through and keep telling my manuscript what I've been telling myself every day since I was fifteen.
Note: If you haven't seen Almost Famous then stop what you're doing right now (right now!) and watch it. It's my most favorite movie of all time and contains without a doubt my favorite character that the late and extremely great Philip Seymour Hoffman ever played.