Edits, man. I have friends who cheerfully say, “rewriting is writing!” and love the edit process. I think these people are also the kind who enjoy putting laundry away. My approach to edits is different, and something I constantly struggle with. Picture a conversation, if you will.
Conscious mind: Your work needs other eyes. Your work has always, always benefitted by an editor’s hand. Most of the time the requested edits are pointing out unconscious repetitions in your work, or unintended cliches, or just misuse of a word. In short, editing is good. Editing makes the story better. You should feel grateful an editor has taken the time to suggest improvements to your work.
Subconscious mind: OH SHIT AN EMAIL HAS ARRIVED WITH “EDITS” IN THE SUBJECT LINE, FIRE THE ADRENALINE CANNONS, PREPARE THE SORRY-FOR-MYSELF HUGGY BEARS, AND MAKE SURE THE WEEPING CLOSET HAS FRESH TISSUES.
Conscious mind: Um, Drama Mama? Can you hold it down and stop flooding me with the desire to run away screaming that no one likes my writing? I have work to do here. And edits have never been bad, or personal. It’s about the work. So let’s edit the work.
Subconscious mind: WRONG WRONG WRONG THERE WAS THE TIME. THE CHOAD* TIME. YOU KNOW IT. RPG EDITOR SEND REDLINES BACK WITH THE WORD “CHOAD” WRITTEN AMONG THE EDITS THREE TIMES. ONCE AS A VERB. OR MAYBE AN ADJECTIVE. “CHOADING.” WE DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS.
Conscious mind: That was over 10 years ago! You were a baby writer! And besides, he was still commenting on the work, not you. Your writing was choady. You were fine.
Subconscious mind: You’re serious? Is this a joke? Choady writing is just fine as long as we don’t have Choady Mur?
Conscious mind: You haven’t been treated like that since! Get over it! Every time since then the edits come in, and you freak the fuck out, and then I have to spend days making you get up the courage to look at the edits, and how often are they more than an hour’s work?
Subconscious mind: Only on novel-length work.
Conscious mind: What’s that?
Subconscious mind: Only on novel-length work. But STILL. SCARY THEY DON’T LIKE US OR OUR WORK FEELS.
Conscious mind: Do you remember how good you feel when it’s done? Do you remember how we always say, “Why did we dread that so much?”
Subconscious mind: Fires the adrenaline cannon at Conscious mind, runs off to the weeping closet.
Conscious mind: Well. That was fun. Now I’ve got adrenaline all over me. Anyone got a towel? Maybe I’ll edit this afternoon…
Meet my subconscious. She’s kind of an asshole.
* Most people I’ve told this story to don’t know what choad means. It’s slang for penis. For more information, that link right there is text and descriptive, and safe for work unless people looking over your shoulder also like to read over your shoulder. And then they’ll only be reading about penis. Fun fact, according to the link above, choad was The Mavens’ Word of the Day, 2000 May 31, Random House.