Get To Know Me,  My Life

GTKM: Final Confessions

Hi, Hey, Hello!

Today is the last post of my Get to Know Me fortnight. It’s been fun creating these posts, so I hoped you enjoyed reading them and getting to know me a little better.

I started this fortnight with Confession Sunday, so I’m gonna end with a confession as well because I like symmetry like that.

Confession: I am a chronic editor.

For most of these blog posts, especially the creative writing pieces, I hand write them in the crisp white pages of my trusty A5 notebook. I write the date at the top of the page and if I take more than one day to write something I write a second date above the continuation. I then leave it a few days and slip a red biro into my hand and start editing. Sometimes it’s just the odd word here or there I have to change. Sometimes I have to add whole sentences and change characters actions or make it apparent who is saying what because I didn’t do that when I was wielding a black biro. I go through pages of dialogue to edit and tweak things so they make a bit more sense. I write a date in red at the top next to that black one as a reference and then I firmly close the notebook.

A couple of days later I open it again and type it up. With this comes more editing. The little things that I missed in the tangle of black and red. A missing comma, full stop or quotation mark. I correct the odd foolish spelling or grammar mistake. I clean up sentences that I didn’t notice had become messy on the page. I add things that I have forgotten or take out things that I realise, as I type, aren’t necessary anymore. I try my best to get it to a stage where I am happy putting it out in the universe. To a stage where I am okay with it existing outside of the safe cover of my reliable A5 notebook. I usually get it to that stage, obviously, there would be no blog if I didn’t.

I did this with essays as well, especially in my final year. But the stakes were kind of higher. I was more meticulous with the editing. I would draft, edit, re-draft, edit, re-draft again and that final edit was usually the one I sent. It was harder to let them go. To know that once I pushed submit the tutors that knew my name and face and who I saw on a weekly basis were going to have it and mark and kind of judge it. When you kind of rely on the fact that you are somewhat okay with words and then you put time and effort in when you know that someone you sort of know is going to read it and assess it the editor in me goes crazy.

That’s why I made a point to never read it properly as an essay again when I got it back. I would obviously read the tutor’s comments, but it was a disjointed reading. I read it out of sequence and therefore largely out of context, I learnt I couldn’t notice the problems if I did that way. I never read an essay back from start to finish after it was submitted. It would have sent me mad. I would see all the things I could have changed, all the clumpy sentences that could have been refined so I could get my points across better, all the foolish errors that would have been magnified because I was an English student and I should definitely know better. It worked for me, I saved myself a lot of ‘pain’.

I do not take that practice with my blog posts.

I think I have gotten them to a stage where I am happy with them. And in that moment in time I am. They are good, I am proud of them, I am a-okay with people reading them. The problem arises when I end up on my blog so that I can get a link for a post and I end up reading it again. I see the tiny errors, I think of better ways to phrase sentences. I notice something wrong with the formatting, or a typo that is actually glaringly obvious but I hadn’t seen before.

And then I cave and click that taunting edit button. I tell myself that I will just change the typos and I do. But I also clean up sentences and change little things so that I’m happy with them again. Then I click update and try to leave it the hell alone. I usually succeed in that. But sometimes I don’t and the cycle starts all over again.

It’s almost vicious in its nature. Actually not almost. It is. A vicious, vicious cycle.

One of the main reasons I haven’t actually fully finished my NaNo novel is because I keep re-editing scenes that I have already written. It’s like I can’t think of anything new until I finish getting what I have already written perfect.

Because that’s what this is right? It’s me striving for a perfection that I am never gonna get because there is ALWAYS going to be something to change. Even if I get rid of all the typos and spelling/grammar problems I will always find something to change with every new look at it. It’s dangerous. And I’m gonna be honest here, it’s really uncharacteristic for me.

I am not a perfectionist. I have gotten good at accepting flaws and mistakes and all that jazz. I have never strived for perfection because I know I am never gonna achieve it. I made peace with that. But you give me a piece of paper and tell me to write with the knowledge that somebody somewhere out there is going to read it and perfect is all I can think of. Who it has to be perfect for I don’t know. Reading is a subjective act, everybody takes something different away from the same words on a page. It will never be perfect and there is a huge part of me that knows that. A part that is screaming at me to stop trying to achieve perfection because it doesn’t exist. But in this avenue, in the only thing that I think I am good at, I can’t help it.

Vicious circle.

Parentheses count: 1. See you on Wednesday!

(Full disclosure I got my dates mixed up and added an extra week to March, so given that it is the last Sunday of the month, my March playlist will come at some point later today.)

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