When you write a book, you will receive criticism and edits and then you will have to perform surgery upon it, and sometimes this surgery is light — like, a stitch here, a biopsy there — and sometimes it’s the kind of surgery chirurgeons did during the Civil War where they’re just like FUCK IT, CLEM, YOUR WHOLE HEAD HAS TO COME OFF, HAND ME THE BONE SAW. In rare cases the surgery is murdersurgery where you just start indiscriminately killing darlings left and right with an ice pick and leave a gore-slick tile floor in your wake.
But it’s a thing you do because you have to do it. Real writers edit. Real writers rewrite. And it gets easy once you commit — you move piece here, you nudge a piece there, and then it feels more comfortable. But until that point arrives, until you are actually willing to move through the edits, I find that I go through five stages.
And so, I give you, the Kubler-Ross Model of Grief Associated With Editing And Rewriting.
Edits? What edits?
*pushes any and all print-outs under the refrigerator*
The book is fine. It’s fine. I never got edits. It’s perfect. Bulletproof even.
*hums a tune loudly, too loudly*
THESE EDITS ARE BULLSHIT.
I CALL SHENANIGANS. THEY’RE JUST WRONG IS WHAT THEY ARE. YOU CAN’T JUST… YOU CAN’T JUST CHANGE STUFF. THESE ARE MY CHOICES. THESE ARE MY CONTROLS! Y-YOU DON’T KNOW. YOU’RE DUMB, EDITOR PERSON. SUPER-DUPER-DUMB. LIKE A… A ‘HOOFED ANIMAL KICKED YOU IN THE HEAD’ DUMB. YOU CAN’T JUST EDIT ME. I’LL EDIT YOUR FACE. I’LL CRITIQUE YOUR DUMB DUMB FACE WITH YOUR BUTTHOLE EYES AND YOUR NASTY DOODOO MOUTH. I LOVE THESE CHARACTERS. I LOVE MY WORDS. EVERYTHING IS FINE. YOU’RE NOT FINE. THIS BOOK IS AMAZING. THE REASON I’M THE AUTHOR AND YOU’RE THE EDITOR IS BECAUSE YOU’RE WEAK. THOSE WHO CAN’T WRITE, EDIT, AM I RIGHT? YOU’RE PROBABLY A MONSTER. A HUMAN MONSTER WHO LIKES TO PULL THE WINGS OFF PIGEONS WITH PLIERS AND OHHHH SURE I’M JUST YOUR LATEST PIGEON. I HATE YOU SO BAD. ALSO YOUR SHOES ARE TOTES UGLY.
FUCK IT, FUCK THIS SHIT, FUCK ALL OF EVERYTHING FOREVER.
YOU’RE NOT MY DAD.
*kicks over lamp*
*hugs manuscript tight, lip quivering*
Okay, ha ha ha, sorry about that thing about calling you a monster. I am. That was uncalled for. It was uncouth. I get that now. And the lamp, too. That was a nice lamp. And your shoes are lovely!
So — *clears throat* — let’s talk about these edits. Like, did you really mean them all? Sure, sure, no, no, I know you did, or you think you did. But let’s drill down. Nitty-gritty time. Get our hands dirty. I’m willing to concede, ha ha ha, that the book isn’t perfect. I know that. Of course it’s not! But maaaaaybe it’s not all that bad, right? Like, okay, perhaps we don’t need to get rid of that character entirely. Oh, sure, sure, he can get pulled from chapter three and still remain in the rest of the book, right? And maybe some of these metaphors are a bit loosey-goosey but I think with minimal tweaking — what’s that? No, yeah, sure, I know the ending doesn’t work, but what you’re suggesting is a bit drastic. I don’t want to rewrite the whole ending. Maybe fixing one paragraph will do it. Just one little paragraph. You know how it’s like, “Oh, that shirt doesn’t look good on you,” but then all you have to do is unbutton the top button or like, pop the collar and it’s like, bam. New shirt. New look. Hot look. You go from looking dumpy and sad to just… just snazzy with one little change.
I think we can do that here. Yeah, no, I’ll do your edits, totally. Totally. Just to a lesser degree than you expected. I mean, they say “kill your darlings,” but that sounds so dramatic. Nobody wants to kill anything. We don’t want to murder parts of the book. The book is precious. It’s nice. It didn’t hurt anyone. Let’s not kill our darlings so much as massage them gently into shape.
That’ll fix it. That’ll fix everything.
everything is a lightless black void
i am terrible at this
all the edits are true
the edits were probably being nice and you were just pulling your punches and the book is terrible and i am terrible and all hope is a screaming dolphin caught in a tuna net
i am a sham. i am an imposter. i am a dung beetle juggling a shit ball uphill.
jesus god what am i doing with my life
i think maybe i’m just going to leave these edits here for a while and i’m gonna walk away from this heinous bus crash of a book i wrote but first i’m gonna quietly place it in this lead-lined trunk and then bury the trunk in the backyard and then build a prison for wayward youths on top of it
i am gonna go now and be a janitor or an accountant or at the very least i am going to sit on the toilet and contemplate my choices all of which have clearly been very poor okay thank you bye
*eats a cookie*
*fails to chew, crumbs tumble from lips onto shirt*
*wakes up after three-day slumber*
*blankets in a tangle, sun through the curtains*
I can do this.
So now I’m going to go do it.