• Perfection can wait

    17 May 2010

    I took Saturday off and went for a walk along the beach in Ballybunion with Bas. Apart from that I've been working hard, editing a book for adults which I wrote several years ago. I have two books for adults which I'm currently working on, one which I've mentioned on this blog before, and this one. The former has a fantastical element, this one doesn't. I like them both, a LOT, and definitely hope to publish both in the near future. It's just a matter of deciding which one to try and lead off with. I've done a few edits on the first. Now I'm re-visiting this book to see what sort of a shape it's in. Once I've edited it, I'll be in a better position to compare them and decide which to line up first.

    I've been trimming the book down quite sharply, shortening paragraphs, cutting words that don't need to be there, tightening up. I've said it here before, but it's worth repeating -- in my experience you should never worry too much about a first draft. I think a lot of writers, especially young writers, get hung up at an early stage. They want every line to be absolutely right, the best line they can produce, and they focus too hard on individual lines, not moving forward with the book until they're happy. I think that can be very dangerous. I like to rush forward as swiftly as I can when I'm writing a first draft. I write more than I need, and it's often lumpy and over-stuffed with details. But when I finish, I have a complete first draft which I can then work on and hone down. It's like chiselling a statue out of a block of marble -- first you need to cut away a lot of the material, to get a rough shape, and only then do you work on the finer edges and details. Pretty much every author goes through a book at least 6 or 7 times before it's ready to be puiblished. The time to focus on fine-tuning lines is during the editing process -- at that stage you'll have done the hard work of getting a first draft down on paper, you'll easily be able to see what works and what doesn't, you'll be free to spend as much time as you like playing around with words and phrases. With a first draft you should be focused on getting your story down in one big lump, so that you have material -- a "block of marble" -- to chip away at. If you let yourself get hung up on details, the chances are you'll probably never make it to the end. Full steam ahead!!!!!!

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