Ninety thousand words appear on the screen in front of me. That’s ten thousand too many, and I’m not going to trim that extra ten by cutting a word here or a sentence there. It’s time to read, review, cut, and polish. It’s time to edit.
I am often asked if writing is hard. My answer is simple, and one that I have commonly heard from some of the greatest teachers and philosophers I have known: Everything is difficult, until it is not. Sometimes it is hard to get started. Sometimes it is difficult to stay focused. Sometimes it is challenging to follow the path the story wants to take you down. But all of these things get easier with practice.
It is quite easy to write poorly. It is harder to write well, but that too, gets easier with practice. And following another writing wisdom that I remind myself of daily: you can fix a bad page; you can’t fix a blank page.
So I guess the truth is: yes, I find writing easy.
I have enjoyed the rush of Nanowrimo, successfully completing a 50000 word first draft of a novel in the 30 days each time I have participated. I have been inspired by fresh ideas late in the night, pumping out 10000 words in one sitting, crashing in the early hours of the morning. As I have said before, sometimes I feel like I am just a puppet with my fingers on the keyboard, and the stories just write themselves.
Writing is easy.
And then there is editing.
Editing is slow and painful, exhausting and thankless.
Writing is inviting all your friends to a party. Editing is being told to choose only two from twenty that you can actually invite. Writing is the party. Editing is the Sunday morning clean up that takes all day, all week, all month. Months. Years.
Long after the excitement of “The End” and the premature celebrations of success, editing lingers, promising hour after unending hour of assurances that what you thought was good, needs to actually be a lot better.
Writing is beautiful. Editing is brutal.
So writing is not hard. But producing something worthy of being read is. And as much as I struggle, and procrastinate, make excuses and go off on tangents with diversions and distractions to avoid the cumbersome task, in the end it is not so thankless. Hopefully the thanks is in the story, made all the better for the effort of the edit.