I’m working on a short piece in preparation for sending in for a competition. Setting aside the mind-numbing what-the-hell-am-I-thinking-and-what-makes-me-think-I-stand-a-chance fear (back in your box with you!). I’m an in the depths of rewrites.
I know the story is good. I know it’s worthy of submission. But it needs work. I’ve already gone through a couple of drafts and then I hit that wall. You see, it’s my work. I can put it away for a while and see bits that need help but I think it does take someone else to look at it and see the rest. To really see what needs strengthening, needs altering or just plain old needs deleting.
I have also learned that the fear of submission is only second best. The nerves that hit me when I was about to open the critiqued work were intense. What if all my worst fears were true? What if after all my hard work, it still sucked. But I shoved that fear into the same box as the other one and opened up the document.
Now I have more rewrites to do. But rewrites are good. Rewrites make the work get better. I just hope I don’t go nuts in the process. Taking your work to pieces and putting it back together; pulling out phrases that you loved at the moment of writing; and finding ways to explain a concept that to you is so obvious without breaking the flow are all heart wrenching acts so you have to believe that rewrites make the work better.
So you do it. You work at it. You hope that what you are now writing improves the story. And then, madness making, you send it back to the editor. You wait with baited breath. Then you do it all over again. The fear, the work, the praying so that eventually you will have a work that shines with brilliance.
And then you submit.
I have to wonder, are writers insane? We do this to ourselves, not once, not twice but as many times as we can. We have to write but we then rewrite again and again. I’m still learning my craft but as I think about all the books on my shelves and in all the bookshops both in reality and online, all those writers who have rewritten time and again. I know that writers are insane but we do it all for the right reasons.