As someone who’s spent the most of her free time writing crap and reading about how to write, I can claim, with certain authority, that editing hurts. Not internal editing, mind. That’s an undeniable part of every writer. I mean the external editing. The proofreading. The extra pair of eyeballs that eye your writing. And it does not help that the extra eyeballs are so focussed on putting you off.
Because editing hurts.
It hurts to write a 200-word piece where you think and rethink each word, each phrase, every pause, and punctuation, just so that someone else (who knows nothing about the effort you’ve put in) comes up and sweeps away all your work down the drain.
I’ve spent my whole life fantasising. I want to publish my own novels. I want to write, and write what’s right for me. And for me, writing is personal. It’s my democracy. For me, by me. But not everyone thinks so. As long as I wrote pieces beginning with “Dear diary,” I could write anything without anyone’s interference. But once I moved out into the light, once I started craving the appreciation that good writing deserves, I came under the spotlight of editing. I had more balls than ever, eyeing my work. I had more colours in my page than I liked. My blogs started looking like an ethnic clothing brand, and my sentences had less of me and more of others.
My writing had improved like never before. But, editing hurts.
It hurts the writer in me who spent sleepless nights scrolling through quotes on Twitter that egged on writers with promises of isolation and unlimited caffeine. Writers are an elite, I learnt. And the internet became an endless stream of encouragement: “Writing is a lonely job,” “Writers write about depression, because they’re depressed themselves,” “Writers write it better than saying it.” It was a glimpse of a life we, as writers, should grow to expect. And I expected that. Until I was proven wrong.
So much so because editing is collaboration. Which contradicted everything the internet had fed me. It puts me in an awkward position where I had to “collaborate across borders,” come up with “out-of-the-box” phrases, and share documents “on-the-go.” I used to be a part of a group that revelled in veiling itself. And then, all of a sudden, I had to come out into the open and volunteer to vulnerability. Because — the greater good.
And that’s why editing hurts. It improves me, it improves my writing, and it gives me a clearer view of what I say. But it kills the elite. It destroys the isolation that I’m so used to.
And what does that mean to me, a self-writer? I publish refined content, which —like fast food— feels good, but is stripped of natural goodness.
But what does that mean to me? It makes me doubt my writing. I get lost without my editors. What if I make a mistake, or use the wrong punctuation? What if there’s an easier way to say something?
What if I get so scared of publishing bad writing, that I stop writing altogether? Just like in food, too much of refining makes you sick.
And that’s why I still rely on this blog to keep me sane.