Prolific Writer, Stagnant Editor

I start a new chapter with a fabulous idea to move the plot forward.

I throw the idea down on paper with fervor, not pausing to edit for fear of losing momentum and ticking off the muse who has graced me with his rare and fickle presence.

At the end of the day, I smile at my genius. I laugh maniacally at my good fortune. At one chapter a day, I’ll have this baby done in a month and a half. I’ll give Karen Kingsbury a run for her money.

Next to “prolific” will be my picture in the dictionary.

The next day, I have a great idea for the next chapter, but before I throw it down, I decide to read what I wrote the day before just to get the feel of the story right.

The smile drains from my face. Who wrote this piece of crap? Surely it was not I. I am a genius. I write fine literature for the ages. Sigh. No matter, it can be fixed.

I spend the day adding quotes and periods, mundane things that any old hack could do. It feels like a waste of my genius and time, but I know one must shovel dung if one wants to own a purebred. A necessary evil. I’m not too proud to shovel.

At the end of the day, I reread my chapter, surely it must be brilliant now. I’ve labored two days on Monique (Monique is this chapter’s pet name. Don’t ask.).

With a grin I begin reading, with a grimace I end. This is not genius. This is trivial. Mediocre at best. Mundane word choices, half-baked ideas, absolutely no symbolism or foreshadowing what so ever. While reading it, I didn’t burst into tears or laughter even once.


I cannot move on until I’ve polished this piece of coal into a rare and sparkling gem. Two weeks of chiseling, polishing and praying over my words and at last I manage to fashion a chapter that I can live with.

So, one day to write a chapter and often a week or more to edit into something acceptable. I love editing, I truly do, but wonder if this part of the process comes as slowly for other writers.