I've been working on a short story for my Fiction Workshop class. My date for turning my "final" (well, final-ish version; we're turning in another revised version for our final portfolio in December) is next Wednesday, on October 22, and everybody comes back with their comments on it on Monday the 27th.
Which means I've been editing and rewriting like crazy to make it presentable to the public eye before then.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not trying to make it absolutely perfect (even though yes, that is a completely unfulfillable wish). But I figure: hey, I've got the time, so why not see how many kinks I an work out on my own?
I've rewritten the entire short story twice within a twenty-four-hour period. For anyone who happened to be on Twitter yesterday morning might have seen my occasional tweet about it as I rewrote it. Again. Because I'd spent five hours the night before rewriting it, too.
This brings me to my point: I really enjoy rewriting. Short stories are definitely easier than an entire novel (a few hours for a 5 k short story versus an entire summer for my 90 k draft of THE HOLLOW MEN, for example). This doesn't mean, however, that rewriting a novel is any less fun. Sure, it takes longer, but there's so much more plot to work with, which means more room to play.
Because, really, that's what rewriting, in particular, is for me: fun. It's grueling, too; my favorite comparison for rewriting is to working out. I love jumping on a treadmill for thirty minutes every day (if I can; otherwise every other day), and while it's a totally daunting task before I jump on, and when I'm in the middle of it I hate my life because I'm sort-of exhausted and extremely thirsty.
And when I give that description I typically get as a response: "And that's...fun?"
Yes, yes it is. Mostly because after I'm done, I feel good. I feel accomplished. I look at what I did and think: damn I'm good.
See, every time I sit down for a rewrite-whether a chapter of one of my novels or an entire short story-it's like I'm jumping on the treadmill. I look at what I have before me and think, "There's no way I can do this," yet as I go along I get the adrenaline pumping. It's that "zone," you know? And I find it whether I'm fifteen minutes into my jog or three hours into rewriting.
And every time I finish I realize that it's a little bit better: my stamina, or my writing. That's why I find the grueling task so much fun.
What's your mental marathon?
The Mental Marathon: @Rae_Slater says that rewriting is a lot like working out, and she couldn't be happier about it (Click to Tweet)
Blogger @Rae_Slater compares rewrites to running. What's your Mental Marathon? (Click to Tweet)