"How ill I have written..."
"How ill I have written. I begin to hate myself." -- JA
Jane wrote this at the close of a letter to her sister, Cassandra, on September 18, 1796 (letter number 7 in Deirdre Le Faye's collection for anyone who wants to look it up). She is only referring to the letter, either to her writing style or her handwriting, but I echo these sentiments.
One of the things I have always loved about writing is what Anne Lamott calls the shitty first draft. I don't particularly love the SFD, or the necessity of writing one, but I love that it is completely and entirely my own and that no one else knows how poorly I have written because I keep everything to myself until it is cleaned up and presentable.
Then came the blog, and now there are all of these little pieces of writing out there, all of these pieces of my draft, some of which rightly belong in the SFD and will never see the light of day. Except that they're there for you to read. I have been panicking about this (particularly some of the posts from Hampshire, but I don't want to tell you which ones for fear that you will run off and read them). I have been wanting to keep everything to myself lately.
Last week I ran into another problem. I have just begun the process of serious editing--serious, okay-let's-make-this-publishable editing. I discovered that the entire thing was crap. (The beginning, at least. The middle has some potential.) I begin to hate myself.
Every writer goes through this, I tell myself. The publishers liked it. You liked it. I even liked it for a while. If nothing else, I try to remember, much more ridiculous things have been published, so in the end, it will probably be okay.
Today was a difficult day and I was only able to edit for about 20 minutes. It was enough to make me think that maybe it isn't entirely hopeless. And there are some things I would really like you to read.