Writer’s Chores

The short answer to this question is: I have no Earthly idea. Another short answer is: I wish I knew.

I’ve written about eight Zero Drafts in the last ten years. Most are still unfinished, a few will never see the light of day, and a few are actually complete stories from start to finish and have some potential.

But even the completed stories need work. Lots and lots of work. And the problem with that is, I am lazy. I don’t like work. Writing is one thing. Yes, writing is work, but it is also very freeing and therapeutic. And when you are writing a Zero Draft, nothing has to make sense. The writing part is fun.

When it’s actually time to turn a Zero Draft into something readable, a writer has to go back into the story and address all the things that don’t make sense, that don’t fit, that don’t matter. What that ultimately means is a lot of re-writing (which I do not enjoy because I dislike writing a scene a second time, especially if I have to make it fit with the rest of the manuscript) and eliminating a lot of what was written the first time. It’s like hacking apart a child, really: destroying something that came out of me, that I gave life to, that I created.

Both of these aspects have kept me from doing in-depth edits of any of my more substantial works. It’s easy to cut 10-20% of a 1000 word short story, or even increase it by that amount. But to make those kinds of edits to a 100,000+ word story, it’s more of a chore.

Or undertaking, rather. I look at it as a chore, but I know some people do enjoy editing. Some say that’s where the real magic – and, indeed, the real satisfaction – comes from. I have yet to experience that. I am completely daunted by the prospect.

I don’t even know where to start, to be completely honest, so I don’t. I make a yearly resolution that this, finally, is the Year of Editing. And each year it turns into the Year of Excuses and the Year of Putting It Off One More Year.

So there’s the long answer to the question. I really hope that someday I develop a novel-editing process – someday soon – and that I can clean up one of my full-length novels. Until then, I will defer to the wisdom of my fellow Confabulators.

Sara is a Kansas-grown author of the fantasy and horror persuasions. She is convinced that fantastical things are waiting for her just around the corner, and until she finds the right corner, she writes about those things instead.

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