Mistakes, we all make them. One of the sayings which has reintroduced itself to me over the last few years is “There are no mistakes, just lessons.” This post is not about the big life lessons, those are something we deal with until the day we die. It is the constant battle with the self to become a better person. One helpful hint that I found in the last five years was a book called “Mistakes Were Made, (But Not by Me)” by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson. It is a good introduction to something called dissonance theory. This post is about writing mistakes.
Somewhere out there, on a dusty library shelf, maybe a couple of dusty library shelves, there is a horrible book of poetry called “For the Love of Death”. It was published in 1981. It was awful, but I was so proud of it. It is probably my worst public embarrassment in print. It is filled with typos, bad grammar, and just young works.
So after I lived a little longer, I looked at it again and decided the title was too good to waste. I took the introductory blurb and the final blurb, gutting the rest of it like a fish. In 1993 I privately printed it again as “For the Love of Death: the early years”. It hangs together better now.
I do not have my own private editor. I do not know if publishing houses employ many editors anymore. The current books I read have machine edited errors that stick out. As writers, we have to become our own worse editors, or maybe just become the best editors we can be. It is pretty boring work editing, and I know with myself, I think when I finish something it looks really great. It usually is not. So when the creative juices are not up to snuff, I edit. It is all part of the job.
I had a writing teacher point out that it is hard “murdering your children”, and it is. But now that I am a cynical old bastard, it is not murder, it is torturing my children to make them stand up straighter and on their own. Maybe if I get my android body before I die, I can live long enough to write something that will truly stand up on its own. If I can only remember to edit.