On Editing and the Self-Loathing Writer

Yeah, yeah, I’m playing off of Stephen King’s autobiographical writing book, On Writing, but it works here. And “self-loathing writer” is a redundancy that I’ll elaborate on a bit later in the piece.

So, I’ve been with a newspaper for a little more than three weeks now and I started thinking about the topic of “editing” the other day. Granted, it’s been something that’s been pertinent to my thought process long before this internship, but it was reignited the other night.

I’ve come to discover that, as a writer, I’m just not an editing type. I’m not one of those writers that can write something and “let it marinate” for a few days or god forbid, longer.

Okay, here’s how the process goes:

1. I think about what to write.

2. I write it.

3. I look over it a few times, rearranging some paragraphs, reworking a sentence, taking out a word and other edits.

4. Done.

It’s like a flyover instead of surgical care. I just can’t spend that much time with something once it spews out of my head and onto the page. It’s like I’m an EMT with a heart in the cooler. I gotta get it to its destination and not worry too much about everything. Not the best analogy, but it gets the point cross, anyway.

And especially with this newspaper internship where you’re turning things over at a fairly fast pace, I definitely ain’t spending too much time dwelling on the editing process. For me, if I was going to do an arbitrary writing statistical analysis, I’d say:

  • Writing is 85% pre-thinking about it.
  • Then 10% the actual writing.
  • Which leaves 5% for editing.

Well, I also forgot the 99% of the time spent on self-loathing, but I digress (nah, I won’t, I’ll get to that in a moment).

I don’t know, is that hindering my writing? I can’t really evaluate that. I’m too close to…myself…to make that determination, but I don’t feel like it is. Are there better decisions my editor(s) make when looking over my work? Sure, but is that my due to my shortened editing process or just the inherent goodness of fresh eyes and a fresh mind approaching the work? Hard to say, I think.

As for the self-loathing, again, especially with this internship I’ve noticed it, but it’s always been around, it’s interesting. I can be fulfilled one day because I just love the process. I love not knowing much about a subject or a person, then digging into it, collecting the pieces and formulating a story based on that, where I then share what I just learned myself with others. The whole process, which some would call “homework,” is just engrossing to me. So, when I get through that process, especially if it seems like I’m running into more roadblocks than normal piecing together the story, I can feel fulfilled. It goes off to the editor and then it shows up in the newspaper tomorrow.

So, wooo!

Then almost immediately, the glee wears off and it’s back to square one. Which again, is good and bad. It’s good to be back to building that process back up again, but it’s also like, “Well, I gotta prove myself again. What if I’m just a fraud?” That latter question I think is one that constantly plagues creative people. What if they’re just a one-trick pony kinda thing? It’s interesting.

Immediacy, I think, is the key factor here. What have you done today? Sometimes, it can be rough to have to keep returning to square one almost immediately after the ink dries on the previous written story. But that’s the writer’s life or any creative person’s life (whatever area you’re allocating your creative energies to).

Square one is where you’re exposed. Going back to King, he even talks about how there’s still the fear after completing a book that it’ll be the shits, basically. It’s in square one where you have to keep proving, re-inventing and showcasing yourself. And that constant exposure is taxing a bit.

It’s in that grey area between fulfillment and self-loathing where madness is birthed. It’s easy to see why creative people tend to go mad, tend to do drugs and/or alcohol and tend to try to and/or kill themselves.

I should also caveat that previous remark with this: I get meta sometimes and step back and think maybe I romanticize the creative endeavors too much, that it has to be about this madness. Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it’s just fulfillment and enrichment.

I dunno. I’m an amateur.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s