pearls, potatoes, positivity& edit goblins

Sin and Syntax begins with a quote from Etienne Decroux (a french mime), “One pearl is better than a whole necklace of potatoes”… While I agree that wickedly piquant prose are the gateway to decadent dimensions of fear and beauty (which is why I am such a dedicated admirer of Catherynne Valente), the process of sifting these “pearls” is one of my most formidable obstacles to Getting Things Finished.
The last panel of Fourth Street Fantasy Con(versation) was about Revision. I identified most with Elizabeth Bear who self-edits as she goes along. During the explanation of her process my friend turned to me and exclaimed, “that’s you, that’s you!” But I am freakishly jealous of the writers (beloved friend included) who can crank out thousands of words, dozens of pages and arrive upon the hallowed shores of the Land of Finished Things. I can not.
I recently read “you can’t edit a blank page” and I grumbled to myself because it’s absolutely true. I have an edit goblin who earnestly believes that once I put a thought into the world it’s there, immutable, and therefore I need to make things perfect and orderly from the beginning. That idea removes all the honesty and fluidity from my writing. The edit goblin sinks it’s nasty little fangs in and my stream of consciousness begins to coagulate, my ideas become necrotic. Suddenly I’m faced with this creative kryptonite and am basically screwed until I do something else and come back to my writing later and in a better state of mind.
There is not always time to go clear my head. Life recently has been busier than I can handle- working on home health care sometimes 16hrs a day- and writing needs to happen in the interim. Chapters get written on hospital stationary or in self-txt msgs, dialogue happens on the back of grocery lists in the produce aisle. And, finally, at the end of the day when I can compile my thoughts into this ‘string of pearls’ I realize it’s not the words themselves but the ability to carry my aesthetic, or my individual voice that gives me the most effective product. The edit goblin falls asleep and I can ask myself first “is this me?” and then I can ask “Is this good?” and proceed toward the ever elusive kingdom of Completed Story while the edit goblin snores away in a corner of my brain. tumblr_mvpg38H1991rp1o2do1_1280

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