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A special form of hell

Occasionally, I meet authors who say they love re-writing.

I hate them.

First, I assume they’re lying. If I can tell by their eyes they’re serious, I think they must be simple. Or maybe they drink box wine and snort prescription pills before they work.

I love writing first drafts. They’re a conjuring, a summoning forth of unseen worlds. I feel brilliant putting those new words on paper.

Then, I come back and find I’ve written dross. There may be glimmers of something great, but that greatness is … obscured, buried under mounds of dung. I must decide: will I pay the price to turn that draft into something readable?

It’s a special form of hell that we all play out on a grander scale. Ira Glass calls it “the gap” — that chasm between where we want our work to be and where it really is.

“For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good,” he says. “It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have.”

I am in the gap. There are demons hissing as they poke me with their pitchforks.

Someday, I will find the other side. I will finish this book and forget the pain of re-writing. I’ll smile at you and say “I love everything about writing.” Then, I will drink my wine and snort my pills.

Fredrick Marion

Fredrick Marion

I like books that refuse to let you sleep at night. I like coffee, talking animals and hearing from readers. Sign up for my email newsletter, and I'll send my latest blog posts to your inbox!

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