It’s been a while. This edit of act 2 took longer than I expected. In the end, my writing partners did too. In fact, they aren’t finished…
See, they’re still a bit ugly. Not exactly ready for glamor shots.
However, as I was considering postponing this post again to finish them, I realized something. In their current state, these intrepid ghosts and skeletons are the best representation I have for where my book is at.
My book is complete, in so much as all of the content technically exists. Like these minis, it has been entirely constructed, all the primary colors are in place, hell, even some finishing work has been done. But they are still unpolished, like my book.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of my book. I also know it’s 90% finished; I have way more work behind me now than ahead of me. But it’s at a stage where it just doesn’t show well, like these minis.
You see, there is this stage of any project where it looks its worst. It is a kind of uncanny valley for art, where it is so close to finished, yet still not, that it seems worse than it did when it was half-finished. At least, that’s how it always feels to me. The critical part of the work is pressing on and not getting discouraged by this phase.
I don’t usually post pictures of unfinished projects, but I think it will be helpful in this case. There is this illusion that great works come from the mind of a genius, that they flow effortlessly and are perfect when they are first born. That simply isn’t true. Now, I’m not saying I’ve ever written a great work, nor am I a genius, but I think that the myth of first draft success holds many people back.
I fear most people never finish their projects because they perfect when they first create them. They think that if it isn’t perfect, they just aren’t cut out for their art. The truth is, I have now spent twice as long editing this book as it took me to write the first draft. From what I can tell, that is relatively normal.
I myself have gone through quite a shift in the last year. It turns out I had no idea how to edit. I thought a bit of a spellcheck and some punctuation correction was all I needed. I was dead wrong.
Why anyone ever published my work before 2020 is beyond me. It turns out, editing time, while far less exciting, makes my stories considerably better. Back when I wrote reviews and essays, my editors must have hated me!
I can also confirm that it gets easier. My editing has gotten better and, dare I say, faster over the last year. I’ve learned to accept criticism with more humility, and I’m better at focusing and working through difficult passages. The next book will be even easier. I genuinely believe this.
My point is, don’t be scared of the ugly stage of the project. The step between the skeleton and polished is not pretty (in this metaphor, I suppose it’s still missing skin…) but it means you’re close to done. Push through the doubt and complete your art!