I’ve been doing a little editing this morning. Tinkering with structure and content, adding, removing, moving words around until I have them just where I want them. Where they can make the maximum impact, allowing the characters and story to pop off the page like popcorn from the pan. Edging ever nearer the perfect sentence, the slippery fish that always seems to wriggle out of my grasp at the very last moment.
It’s a tedious but necessary process. Akin to chipping away at a formless block of marble, hopeful that a masterpiece lies within, awaiting your skilled hands to reveal it. At the time, editing can seem pointless and unnecessary, a real drag. It is a deeply unglamorous process, about as far removed from the stereotypical image of the passionate, spontaneous writer. It takes patience and perseverance.
But that’s how you improve, that’s how you get better. It can feel like one step forward and three steps back but writing a book is like that, a war of attrition where every tiny victory comes at a cost. Walk into any bookshop and cast an eye around the thousands of titles on the shelves, vying for your attention. Every one of them, famous classic or little read potboiler, was a work of passion, a project that consumed its creator from start to finish.
We might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but anyone who sets out to write a book deserves our respect for undertaking such an arduous challenge. Anyone who succeeds in completing one and then seeing it through to actual publication is already a hero in my eyes, even if it never sells a copy. Those who mock or ignore are many but it’s so much easier to destroy than it is to construct. Writers deserve so much more.