Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My Half Eaten Sandwiches

Ever since I was introduced to the idea of unfinished novels being like half eaten sandwiches, I honestly haven't been able to get the image out of my mind.  Someone wandering around with a sandwich in their hand munching away happily.  Suddenly a new sandwich appears, and they find themselves questioning whether they like the sandwich they're currently eating at all.  It doesn't take too much to convince them to put down that half eaten sandwich, pick up the new one and continue on their way, only to discover a new sandwich.

That is the very definition of me as a writer.  I have a long trail of half eaten sandwiches.  All of them ditched for something that seemed shinier or more interesting.  All of them, I'm sure, having some kind of potential that I just couldn't see.

I can already feel this very thing happening with one of the novels that I'm currently working on.  The Commons is a YA dystopian I wrote during nano.  I loved this book while I was planning it, I loved it while I was writing it, and I loved it after the first draft was done.

So what's the problem?  The same problem that I have every single time I finish a first draft.  I can't seem to get through the editing.

I know you've all heard me bitching about editing before, and I'm sure you'll hear it again (as it is my least favourite part of the writing process) but it is unfortunately what is currently holding me back as a writer.  It's what's keeping me from getting a novel to a draft where I can feasibly send it out to agents/publishers and try to take that step forward into actually becoming an author.

Ironically, I used to think that I could never finish a novel.  As in, writing the first draft.  I spent years beginning stories only to pretend that never happened.  Denying all the while that I did, in fact, have a story in me that I wanted to tell.  It took nano to make me realize that this was something I could, in fact, do.  That writing a novel wasn't just for those favourite authors whose stories I fell in love with.  I could do it too.

Out there somewhere I'm sure there's something that could motivate me just as much for editing, but so far I have yet to find it.  And without motivation, I've found the process of editing tedious and frustrating (just as I'm sure most writers do.  I believe it has something to do with writing being a creative process and editing being analytical.)

What I have to do is just sit down and force myself to do it.  To get the editing over with so that I can hold a completed manuscript in my hand.  To finally look at something I've written and think 'that's it!  I'm done!  It's ready to be seen.'

Which means that all of those sandwiches that keep appearing, shiny and new and looking oh so tasty, are going to have to be put on the back burner.  No matter how exciting they seem, or how much I want to write them, I need to finish, actually completely finish, a novel.  Time to finish one of these sandwiches!


  1. My advice is to keep the recipe for those other sandwiches for later. After you've finished one, move on to the next. I would suggest writing a rough draft and editing at the same time, but at the rate you write, I don't know if that would work. ;)

  2. It definitely wouldn't work for me. If I tried to edit at the same time as writing, I would probably never end up finishing the novel. It's the editing that I have a hard time with. And I do keep ideas for later, but some of them are just so shiny...I'll finish one this year. It's been decided.