We’re constantly revising our lives here at TVWriter™. The way we see it, if we can just get it right we’re bound to get that Big Reward we’ve been searching for. You know, like selling our screenplay….
by Kara Holden
I love writing. I do. Love the creation of something that has never existed in the world before, love the way dialogue plays in my head, love the sound the keys make as I transcribe it to the page. But today I have a confession to make: as much as I love writing, I hate rewriting. Even now, I’m about ready to chuck my computer into the washing machine and set it on spin if my husband gives me one more note to make this opening paragraph “punchier.” There. Punchy enough?
I know, I know, don’t blame the messenger. And the truth is, like the famous quote points out, writing is rewriting. But the necessity of it doesn’t make it any easier. It is difficult, tedious and sometimes painful work. It hurts to whittle away words that hard work have wrought – to “kill your darlings” as Faulkner once quipped. Hard to look at your own work with a critical eye (or to stop being so critical in some cases). It is difficult to cut away lines you love, characters you have grown to adore and scenes you are proud of, simply because they aren’t moving the story forward.
And the most painful part of the process for me is facing the fact that I will never be perfect the first time around. Or the second. Or even the fifteenth.
In fact, perfection as a writer is completely unattainable…but a great story is not. And that is what rewriting will win you. Just like Michelangelo chipping away at the stone to discover his David, or a master jeweler cutting away parts of a diamond to find the maximum shine – brilliance is in the editing. And the interesting thing is: the same can be said for life.
The author John Irving famously said, “Half my life is an act of revision.” I would take it a step further and say that all of life is. Have you ever noticed the clarity that comes from cutting out the things in your life that are keeping your story from moving forward? That’s because things like guilt and resentment and unrealistic expectations only serve to distract from the important things in life, the central plot, if you will. Grudges, anger and fear can bog down a life and make it ineffectual, just as an extra twenty pages in the middle of a second act can ruin a good screenplay. I know it is not an easy process to evaluate the things in your script that are holding you back from greatness – and harder still to make the actual cut once you’ve narrowed in on the problem.