Tag Archives: Nick Hornby

Editing is like…

“I’ve found the best way to revise your own work is to pretend that somebody else wrote it and then to rip the living shit out of it.”
― Don Roff

“Anyone and everyone taking a writing class knows that the secret of good writing is to cut it back, pare it down, winnow, chop, hack, prune, and trim, remove every superfluous word, compress, compress, compress…

Actually, when you think about it, not many novels in the Spare tradition are terribly cheerful. Jokes you can usually pluck out whole, by the roots, so if you’re doing some heavy-duty prose-weeding, they’re the first to go. And there’s some stuff about the whole winnowing process I just don’t get. Why does it always stop when the work in question has been reduced to sixty or seventy thousand words–entirely coincidentally, I’m sure, the minimum length for a publishable novel? I’m sure you could get it down to twenty or thirty if you tried hard enough. In fact, why stop at twenty or thirty? Why write at all? Why not just jot the plot and a couple of themes down on the back of an envelope and leave it at that? The truth is, there’s nothing very utilitarian about fiction or its creation, and I suspect that people are desperate to make it sound manly, back-breaking labor because it’s such a wussy thing to do in the first place. The obsession with austerity is an attempt to compensate, to make writing resemble a real job, like farming, or logging. (It’s also why people who work in advertising put in twenty-hour days.) Go on, young writers–treat yourself to a joke, or an adverb! Spoil yourself! Readers won’t mind!”
― Nick Hornby, The Polysyllabic Spree

“I feel like I’m trying to shovel shit from the bottom of an elevator shaft.” ― C.J. Casey, Something I Screamed at my Mug of Tea this Morning

So I’m editing a novella in hopes for publication. In addition to the poetry for Poetry Monday, I’ll put up things about the editing process and perhaps an excerpt later.

And for those of you editing… you’re not alone. Actually, check that. You’re horribly, horribly alone. Writing is perhaps the most solitary thing one can do; at least if you’re a chronic masturbator you can attract a crowd. But you’re alone with a bunch of other people who are just as alone as you are. I hope that makes you feel a little better. I mean, it doesn’t help me, but hopefully it will help you.