Before I give the floor to Alex, I’d like to say that this is the only way to start off the new year–laughing.
I have decided, after all these years, to write you a letter and tell you how I really feel, you crafty bastard. Since the day I started writing you have been with me. We have drudged through the quicksand of wordsmithing hand in hand. Me pulling forward with all the momentum my muse would allow and you, dragging behind me like a two-ton cannonball magnetized to the Earth’s core. That’s right, Editing, you’ve been holding me back. Every time I get ahead–get a new idea plotted or a new first draft finished–you have to clamp down on my productivity like a ticked off snapping turtle on steroids.
Sure, I’ve tried to be patient. I understand that as a wordsmither I need you, Editing. My muse isn’t so big on the whole grammar thing and I can’t blame her. So yeah, I’m not too big a man to give credit where credit’s due. Editing, I owe you. Without you people would probably think I’m little more than a computerized otter randomly pressing buttons on his novelization machine.
Now, with that being said, my syntaxian friend, as much as I need you, I also hate you. I spend six weeks piecing together between fifty and eighty thousand, semi-coherent words. Not bad, huh? Quick estimate, I’d say that works out to twelve words a second.* By the end of that six or so weeks I’m all, “Hell yeah, I created something!” And after all those words about one particular subject, I’m also ready to move on to something new. Can I do that? No. All because you have to swoop in and demand that every single one of the thousands of words makes sense. How freaking high and mighty of you, Editing.
You know, the thing that bothers me most about you is how needy you are. If I could just jot down my words and then skim over them later and call it done, we would be cool, but that’s not how it is. First, you make me make sure the story makes sense. Okay, cool, whatever. Next, I have to read through again and make sure the words are all in the proper homes and snuggled in tight under their Strunk and White covers. Fine, I’ll compromise. Two read throughs. If that were all it took, this relationship could flourish. Instead, you require me to have others read my story and then edit AGAIN! All of this is before I even send it to the publisher who requires you and I to spend even more time getting to know each other–after some outside consultation, of course.
So this is my breakup letter. It’s not seven pages, but I don’t think it has to be. I’ve said all I have to say and now we’re clear. From this point on, I edit no further. No more backspacing. no more re-reading everything I’ve written seventeen times to make sure all the commas are in the right places and checking to make sure I don’t have too many run-on sentences. From now on I don’t give one single damn if I misuse their/there/they’re.
P.S. Don’t try calling, I’m changing my number.
P.P.S. I’m just playing, baby, you know I need you. I didn’t realize just how much you meant to me until I saw someone else misuse they’re/their/there. Please, take me back and I’ll be good to you. We can go through as many times as you like. I’ll pay attention and tell you those semi-colons make you look slim in those sentences. I’ll be the wordsmith you always wanted me to be.
*Very rough estimate. Don’t judge my mathematizing.
How about you. Did your New Years start out all right? Love to hear from you. 🙂