Creation vs Editing

penI’ve just started a new novel. It’s exciting, scary, and a little painful. I’ve been revising┬ámy murder mystery (coming soon!) for so long that it’s hard to shift into pure writing.

The gulf between creation and revision is deep. In one realm you are trying to let your mind break free and in the other you concentrate on the minutia. Maybe it’s the difference between distance running and rock climbing.

There — I like that analogy: running versus climbing. Running with only a basic idea of your path and plan, versus carefully, painstakingly climbing to a predetermined destination.

I enjoy both aspects of writing. I love the freedom of creation, and I love the constraint of editing. They each use different parts of the brain, and I forget how much I love each of them when I’m away.

There’s the oft quoted idea that there are two kinds of writers architects and gardeners. Yeah, I’m a gardener. When I’m in creator mode I have very little organization. I have a voice, a character, a situation and the tale spins out from there.

yarnWhich makes it all sound so easy. It’s not. It’s a tangle of ideas, voices, theories, if-then statements, locations, scenes, and characters that somehow sorts itself out and becomes a book.

This is my third novel — perhaps it’s too soon to call it that. I’ve had a title — Stalking Horse — since 2013. I’ve written about 20,000 words, and I’ve put it down and picked it up a dozen times in the last 2 years. I finally figured out the problem — I had the wrong person as the main character!

I’m really thankful that this happened with my 3rd novel and not my first. It felt insurmountable — this Stalking Horse problem. My imagination wasn’t going anywhere, and no wonder since it would have been akin to taking a trip with someone you don’t like. Almost every one of those 20,000 words felt like a chore. Now, the words flow freely because I have the right voice in my head. I’m telling his story and discovering all of his traits — his strengths, foibles, fears, and hopes. I have an open road ahead of me and nothing but time.




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