Editing Myself to Death

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My online writing class has officially started. It’s a writing class for Science Fiction & Fantasy writers, so everything I’ve been reading on the site is right up my alley. I was a little worried that there would be a ton of Tolkien-esque stories filled elves and dwarves and such. I’m happy to say, no elves yet.*

*Let me just say here, that I have no problem with elves. But a lot of times stories that are trying to imitate good sci-fi/fantasy come across a little too…over done. Or overwhelmingly fantastical, if you will.

I’ve posted the first chapter of the novel I’m working on, in three parts. I just posted part 3 today, so I haven’t had any feedback yet, but the other critiques I’ve received have been good. I mean, I was cringing at the thought of what my peers would think and how they would convey those thoughts. It’s easy to be blunt when you’re typing and not actually talking to someone. But I have actually been looking forward to the feedback.

My biggest problem with writing fiction is that I went to college to be a book editor. So I’ve been trained to find grammatical errors, punctuation problems, to fix problem sentences, etc. This has crippled the writer in me, in a sense. It has been a pattern of mine to start writing something, really get into it, and then go back and start re-reading – and inevitably, revising. I end up revising it so much and so often that I get bogged down in the beginning and never finish it. I edit myself to death. I have my half-written memoir in a filing cabinet somewhere, written by my 19 year-old self. I just gave up on it after a while and so it sits, waiting. I like to think that someday someone will actually want to read my memoir. Maybe then I’ll be motivated enough to finish it.

Until then, I’ll be writing my YA Sci Fi/ Fantasy book. I’m what you would call a “Discovery” writer, which is why I think I have a hard time completing my work. I don’t start out with any kind of plan for what I’m going to write. In fact, the book I’m writing has morphed into something quite different than I thought it would be when I started it. My big challenge now is to read the feedback I’m getting and then save it in a folder to be looked at again once the first draft of my book is done and I’m ready to start revising. The feedback I’ve gotten has been really positive – definitely an ego boost. I’ve been pleasantly shocked at just how much the readers are getting about my setting and character after only reading the first thousand to three thousand words. Makes me feel like I’m doing everything right. It’s a nice feeling.

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