5th March 2012 Rewriting. Just do it.
So, I thought I'd write about writing. The first thing I feel about it today is that it's not easy. You've got to overcome that whole "it's a bit hard to make this good so I'm going to give up" thing if a lovely editor is awaiting your manuscript. You've got to overcome it if you want to write anything in the first place. So where to begin?
Some might say that you can't just put any old rubbish down, cross your fingers and hope for the best; no one's going to let you get away with that, are they? But sometimes the urge to do just that is pretty well irresitible and if you ask me, if it gets the flow going, then you can do what you like. Because out of rubbish can be built something pretty darn cool. I'm thinking about robots here, isn't there a TV show where they collect lots of bits and bobs and wire them all up and make some kind of functioning electronic device out of it all? Perhaps it was a dream I had. Or maybe GCSE Physics, which I never actually took. Even so, rubbish can be awfully useful, but you've got to make it work for you. You've got to revisit that rubbish, bend it and reshape it, twist it, glue on new bits, chuck out the ones that really don't work. I guess what I'm really talking about is rewriting.
I hope that most authors have to do this. I hope I'm not the only one. Because I'm inherently lazy, however, and would prefer to believe that pure genius flows from my fingertips, I am fairly resistant to the idea. However, because I am also an obsessive workaholic who has a childlike desire to please and to be rewarded with full marks every time, I also get down to it with alacrity. But how?
Well, I'm currently thinking of my work in progress as a weedy little creature. A puny stick man perhaps. To make my stick man work for me I need to muscle him up. So, that means layering, building, making him pump some damn iron, feeding him up so he gets a bit fat. And that's all to do with language. It means thinking carefully about what you want to say and how you're going to say it, so that stiick man can start to walk and move and run and jump and finally become the beautifully toned, honed and sartorially exquisite creature he was always destined to be. For a start I can whip out some lazy adverbs and find the right verb for the job. Next I can read some Emily Dickinson (or whoever your muse of the moment may be) and remind myself of the startling originality of her imagery and maybe, once inspired, try on a little synesthesia, see if my stick man likes to wear it. I can try out a metaphor or two, maybe extend them, let down the hems, give 'em puff sleeves. There are all kinds of ways to make stick man look good.
And once you get to work, that's when it gets fun. So I tell myself rewriting is neither bore nor chore. It is in fact the best bit of all. Even better than the first light-bulb moment, even better than the satisfaction of the final full stop. Or maybe not. But it's not altogether awful, I swear.