“Put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.” –Colette
Being heavy in the middle of editing the clunkiest and most uninspired part of Soulless, I can definitely relate to Colette’s quote here. Granted, there are a million author quotes out there praising the importance of good editing (many of which have popped up on my website already), but it never hurts to be reminded, especially when it resonates so effectively. This middle part is a complete mess, most of it is going to completely disappear, with only some of it being replaced with newly written angles. And that’s okay. Because I know it’s crap.
The real trouble comes when you think something is good and you have to still destroy it. I suffer that with my short stories; brevity has never been my strong suit, so I often have to cut out huge sections in able to get them to a more palatable word count.
Yesterday, my boyfriend read to me an article he found on Tumblr (and, of course, I can’t find it now for the life of me) that seemed to suggest that, as writers, we focus too much on the “writing” aspect of it, and not enough on just plain old storytelling, but I feel that this article is a little misguided, and Colette’s quote is much more on the mark. Anyone can scribble down words and tell a story; an author, however, is someone who can write down a tale and then manipulate the language into making it incredible. The words are what give us our voice, and it’s our duty to wrangle them into the best shapes and forms possible. Never trust your first draft. And when you finally think you’ve edited things to the place they need to be, go back, and edit it one more time.
I like that concept – writers write, authors delete.