I’m an impatient person. I want things to move quickly and efficiently. I’m also unrealistic in gauging how much time a project will take. And I get frustrated when my vision for how something should go doesn’t match the reality. (These are also just some of the many reasons why I meditate.)
Writing a novel is an exercise in inefficiency. There isn’t a one-to-one ratio in words written to words published. I have piles and piles of pages that will never see the light of day, storylines that will never be more than notes jotted on scraps of paper, novels half-started and then abandoned. But I also have material that climbed out of the morass and became something interesting. Something readable.
Before I was a writer, I used to think that books fell out of the brain fully formed. The writer was a conduit, nothing more. Now I know that none of the good stuff gets where it is without rounds and rounds of blood, sweat and editing. Here’s how I edit and rewrite: I poke and prod at the characters, examining their motivations and identities. I hack unnecessary scenes, rewrite entire chapters and destroy villages. When I can’t take it further, it goes to beta readers and I revise some more. After that, it goes to my amazing editor, Rebecca Heyman. Then back again for more editing.
And yeah, it’s totally inefficient. This still frustrates me on some level. Then I remind myself that maybe efficiency isn’t the highest goal, that maybe the highest goal is writing the best stuff I can. Then I tell myself to shut up already and go write.