Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Rewrites *tsk, tsk*

Taken from the inestimable fiction editor Teresa Nielsen Hayden at the comment board of Making Light:

If you're doing multiple overlapping rewrites, it's clear that you don't know exactly what you're doing or where you're going. You can find that out by finishing the first draft. Any rewrites you do prior to that point will be done in a state of imperfect knowledge, and are probably just so much wasted work, because you can't tell whether something is perfect until you know what book it's supposed to be part of.

Also: Sometimes your own writing is simply going to look dismal to you. It's just a thing that happens, like those odd spells where all the instances of "he said" and "she said" seem unbearably obtrusive and repetitive. There's no help for it. You just have to push on through and trust that it'll all look different to you later on. (italics mine)

Later on, Teresa's husband, Patrick, says the same thing, referring to a conversation between writer Eileen Gunn and cyberpunk guru William Gibson (creator of the novel Neuromancer) found in Gunn's anthology, Stable Strategies and Others:

"I forgot to tell you the secret of writing," he said.

"Okay," I said. "What is the secret of writing?"

A beat, for emphasis. Then: "You must learn to overcome your very natural and appropriate revulsion for your own work."

It was the most useful writing advice anyone has ever given me.

Damn it, I really have to quit rewriting during writing.

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