Yesterday I completed a short story. I had spent two weeks agonising over the editing process and finally, as midnight approached, I sat back with a satisfied feeling that I had finally finished my story. I went to bed content that I had created something that wasn’t half bad.
When I woke up and re-read it on my Kindle app, the cold light of day hit. The well crafted and thought-out sentences were clunky and the story seemed a little dull and ill thought out. I felt embarrassed by my premature optimism.
This isn’t new though. It is the process many writers put themselves through to get the job done. Editing is an up hill struggle. You have to battle doubt and lack of motivation for starters.
I abandoned one short story because I wasn’t getting anywhere and moved on to another that I had better success with. Yet every time I read it through, I pick and pick and cringe. One minute I love it and a couple of hours later I hate it again.
Now I have decided to let it go. I’ve sent it to some family members who I trust to give an honest opinion and not just say it’s good because they want to be nice. Waiting for feedback is like waiting to hear back from a tutor grading an essay. This is a necessary part of editing and crucial when you have lost objectivity. For me, the writing is good when you don’t feel like you are consciously reading. With your own writing I don’t think you are able to get a sense of that.
Do all writers hate their work? Does they ever get that ‘good job, well done’ feeling and easily move on?
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love writing and it gives me a thrill whenever I start something new. But there is something tortuous about sharing something so personal that you pour your heart and soul into. This is probably why a lot of writers have a turbulent relationship with their work. Perfection is everything.
Either way, I’m going to keep working at it and strive to arrive at that point where I know that my work is the best that it can be.