Editing’s existential nature

A long, honest post from author Steven Pressfield contains this gem on how editing often turns out:

What I’m trying to say is that when you and I write a draft of a novel and the damn thing DOESN’T WORK, we find ourselves in the same position as Stanley after he options a Philip K. Dick short story or Charlie Kaufman when he signs a contract to adapt a magazine piece about flowers. We are stuck with a half-story. The only difference is we did it ourselves. We didn’t have to acquire the half-story from another writer; we banged the sucker out all by ourselves.
Again, why am I beating this nearly-extinct horse? Because before you and I can chart our course for Tahiti, we have to know WHERE WE ARE EMBARKING FROM. This challenge is, as I observed earlier in this series, “writing at the Ph.D. level” and “overcoming Resistance at the Ph.D. level.” Our assignment, yours and mine as we stand over the smoldering wreckage of our half-story/half-novel, is to
1. Acquire objectivity about the material
2. Detach ourselves emotionally from our own prior work
3. Mentally regroup, so that we can summon our courage
4. Open our minds to every new and fresh story possibility
5. Start again from Square One.

 

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