In the wise and well sung words of Meg in Disney’s Hercules, “I won’t say I’m in love.” The truth of the matter is that I am, I just don’t want to admit it. Still, I can’t stop thinking about this novel that I’ve been in the process of writing and rewriting since 2013. It’s been a lot of fun, mostly because I haven’t been putting all of my hopes and dreams onto it, but as I’m revamping the story it gets harder and harder for me to delete mass amounts of text.
This story is not the same one I began writing in my university apartment after watching a disappointing episode of a TV series I liked and thinking to myself, “I can do better.” The plot has been altered, some characters are drastically different (some even switching genders), and the point of view went from 1st to 3rd. The story is continuously transforming and it will probably continue to do so until I feel like it’s complete.
I hate changing it sometimes though. I have Word documents of all the rough drafts and outtakes because I don’t know how to let go of pieces of text that won’t work. I feel attached to scenes that aren’t any good and ones that are good, but no longer make sense in the story’s timeline. It’s almost painful ripping away bits of the novel to make it into something new, but it has to be done.
There’s also the fear that what I’ll write next won’t be as good. It’s easy to look at a first draft and think to yourself, “What if this is the best I can do? What if I’ll ruin it by changing it?” Maybe the muses helped you write that one draft and now they’re off doing other things. Or maybe none of the drafts are good and the constant revisions are for nothing. For me, writing is a fun hobby because I love art and instead of drawing, I express myself through words. If I let myself grow so attached that fear is always in the back of my mind, then I’ve lost myself to the craft.
I can’t fall in love with the text because at the end of the day that’s all it is – text. It’s words strung together in a Word document. The words have meaning to me and I look to them for inspiration and ideas, but they’re still only words. I have to learn how to let go of what is no longer helpful to me.
The revision process is one of the messiest breakups I will ever deal with, but that’s the only way I’ll ever grow as a writer. In the end, I’ll get out of a relationship that is lovely, but not quite working and hopefully find my way toward one that clicks.