If Life Was Like Writing
Q: What is the hardest part of the writing experience?
A: This has been asked before in a different way and the answer is an easy one: the edits. But rather than rehashing how difficult and sometimes agonizing revising and deleting and altering and inserting can be I want to look at editing in a different light.
Writing, as art, reflects life. All art does. It is a window into the soul of the artist and reveals how she interprets the world around her. So when I say I hate editing I mean to say I hate the mechanics of editing. The first draft is where art happens, where creativity flows almost unhindered and the soul is bared on paper. It’s fluid and freeing, inspiring and uninhibited.
The first draft reflects life as it is lived, sometimes beautiful, sometimes disgusting. And it is during this first draft, as in life lived, that mistakes are made. Things are written that shouldn’t be written, scenes are put together in a manner that make little sense, characters are treated unfairly. Storylines are left incomplete. It’s raw, unrefined, thrilling, and revolting all at the same time.
But the element that separates the art of writing from the experience of living is that in writing you can correct those mistakes, you can change the past to improve the present. If life was like writing, we would get second, third, fourth, and fifth chances to make right the wrongs we’ve done, to take back words misspoken, to heal hurts inflicted, and polish all the rough corners of our character. If life was like writing every day, every moment, could be examined after the fact and improved upon. Every word scrutinized to make sure it mattered. Every decision re-evaluated for the best outcome.
Sounds enticing, doesn’t it? Like something out of a fairy tale. And in the world of writing it’s reality. It’s the stuff editing is made of. Correcting wrongs, improving dialogue, smoothing bumpy roads.
The lesson here? Every day we live is a first draft so think before you speak, pray before you act, consider before you decide. In life there are no edits.