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Writing for Catharsis and Editing for Deadlines

There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.

If writing is opening a vein, editing is the part where you have to scrub your desk and carpet of all the blood. There’s nothing to writing, once you take the leap and decide to pour your heart and soul out onto the page. Editing, however, is a messy, ugly process of taking something raw and bloody and making it looked like a nicely cooked meal before you serve it.

I realized this week, struggling through editing, that I had the itching desire to write a book. Something dark and cathartic, to get out all the wicked little fascinations that come creeping into my mind when I’m struggling with my emotions. Nevermind I wrote a 115,000 word sci-fi not two months ago, have a much-anticipated sequel to edit, am halfway through three other cheerful projects, and should be thinking, if anything, about the third and final installment of The Neverland Wars…

I want to write a book about a young girl who goes into women’s prize fighting in a drug-addled sci-fi dystopia. Her roommate’s name is Sasha and she collects old calendars. It’ll be great.

In the old days, I’d just go for it. Which is how I have accumulated twenty different books stashed in dusty binders in my closet, some manuscripts which no one (editor, friend, or otherwise) has ever laid eyes on. I realize, in retrospect, I never wrote those books for other people, I never wrote them for readers. I always wrote them for myself. I didn’t have any compulsion to polish them, I just obsessively wrote them, moving on as soon as they were drafted….as soon as I’d finished bleeding out.

I’ve never edited a book before, not like this. Not with the real and true knowledge that it will end up in front of readers. Knowing that makes me want to do right by you goodly people who so kindly give my stories your eyes and minds for a few hours or days of your lives. I’m a terrible editor, but publishing The Neverland Wars was a crash course that makes me feel like a competent, albeit unwilling, self-editor.

The Neverland Wars Sequel feels like something standing in my way to catharsis now. It uses the same stamina and creative fuel I would need to write, so I can’t just clock in a few hours of working on it and then move onto some heart-wrenching side project…my writing brain is already fried. It all feels very unfair. I only got here because I was so willing to bleed all over the place, and now reality has come knocking and informed me that from this point on I will always have to clean up my bloody little messes.

But maybe not.

Maybe when I finish with edits this month, maybe then I’ll write a new story. Maybe I’ll go wherever I want to inside my head and find something to slice open that I wouldn’t want to share anyways. Maybe I’ll slip a novel in, in between everything else, so fast no one will notice, no one will ask, and I’ll keep it to myself…

All bloody and raw.

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