This is some good advice, which I’ve been following without realizing it.

When I write, the story is all-important. In fact, I think of it with caps, as The Story. Everything feeds The Story or is shoved aside. I am not a person who keeps an “ideal” writer in mind. I write stories that I would like to read. (Which I suppose makes me the ideal reader, but that sounds way too egotistical.) If I start thinking about what a potential reader will think about what I write (“Will they be interested in this scene?” “How much sex will be OK?” etc.), then I might as well shoot my Muse and be done with it.

The Story (yeah, caps) is going to demand pretty much your entire life until you either finish it or give up on it. The Muse is elusive, but when you have your hands on her, she’s powerful. Why tie her up? Forget everything and let The Story flow through you and onto the page. Don’t let a single drop of that creative genius fall to the ground.

However, when The Story is done (I assume that you will finish it), you set it aside so that you can recover your health and your life. Everyone has a different time frame for how long it takes to get some perspective on The Story, so that it becomes just “the story” (no caps). Mine is flexible, but an absolute minimum of two weeks. After that, you return to the story, and now you have to make sure that the wonderful thing you created in your head has translated to your page. Now is the time to think about your reader.

You don’t want to let your reader dictate to your Muse. Nope. You don’t want to ask those questions above, or any other stupid question, like “Will this sell?” You still have to love and be dedicated to The Story. But now is the time to be concerned with your reader as the person you’ve invited into your world and introduced to your characters. The Story isn’t just yours anymore. You’re sharing it with your reader.

When you edit and rewrite, what you are doing is making sure that your mechanics have made the story clear, accessible, and enjoyable to a reader. Your words and sentences have to be scrutinized so that you have said what you mean and made your scene “real”. You have to create beauty by honing your words, making them sharp, cleaning out all cliches, and getting rid of all errors that might drag your reader out of The Story. (One of my biggies is -ing words, as demonstrated by that last sentence.) You also have to correct all grammar and spelling mistakes. Yes, you do, so stop whining. Unless you can afford to pay someone else to do it, anyway.

So, the writing is pouring the ingredients of your soaring creativity onto the page. The editing is to be sure that someone else can share in your joy.



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