Monday, December 03, 2007

Telling Write From Wrong (Part 18)

Don't Let Editing Bug You

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON


About six or seven years ago, our son took me up on my brave but perhaps rather foolhardy offer that I was going to make his birthday cake. ``I want a cake in the shape of the new Volkswagen Beetle,'' he announced. Immediately, I had to question my own sanity. What sort of challenge was I taking on here?

You reckon that was tough? He wanted it in the colours of his favourite football team too.

As things turned out, it was a work of art. Well, that's my story and I'm sticking with it. I made two rectangular cakes (history calls on me to record the fact that my wife, the beautiful Mrs Authorblog, might have helped in this process - but this is uncomfirmed).

Then I put one rectangular cake on top of the other and stood there like Michelangelo. Well, I thought I looked like Michelangelo, but no one else shared my cheerful optimism.

The cake turned out to be a star attraction. The wing mirrors were pieces of white chewing gum. The brake lights were red Smarties. The headlights were silver discs. The shape of that distinctive automobile body was brilliant. See, I told you I was Michelangelo. All the young guests were in awe of the cake - but hey, the little blighters scoffed it anyway.

When I had the pleasure of a long-distance phone call from that delightful British blogger Carol Cooper we spoke of many things, of cabbages and kings; of winters and springs, of writing yarns and editing things. And I told her the story of the birthday cake in the shape of the Volkswagen Beetle. She is far too well bred to ask mundane questions like: ``Oi, what does a birthday cake have to do with editing a novel?''

Because she understood my point. It has everything to do with writing and editing a novel. How did I carve the VW out of two rectangular cakes? Simple. I just cut away everything that didn't look like a VW. A little bit of chopping here, a little bit of chiselling there and some judicious finishing touches to complete the masterpiece. Worked beautifully.

Same thing with a book. I never edit while I write, because it's the quickest path to ulcers and irrational cencerns about quality. Don't interrupt the creative process. Just keep writing. And when you've finished the entire manuscript, then start the editing process.

You'll be amazed at how easy it is that way. Having finished the writing, you can then see immediately what doesn't belong, or you can modify what needs tweaking. It's just like creating a Volkswagen birthday cake.

18 comments:

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Welcome advice. I often get lost in the story and then find myself reading what I have just written only to feel downheartened by the fact that it will need a re-write.

Many thanks, Crystal xx

imac said...

""Love Bug""

""Beetle Drive""

Mrs DAVID Beeton.
lol.


See my Symmetrical Post.

Cait O'Connor said...

Thanks for calling by my blog. I agree with you, the spirit of Christmas should be with us all the time.

Good advice re. editing, I shall carry that out in my current project.

I love the idea of having a VW cake and am impressed by its construction.

Chris Eberle/Precision Video said...

Thanks for visiting my blog today. Your VW pics reminded me of 20+ years ago when a friend and I restored his 1972 Superbeetle. What a great car!

KaiBlueCreations said...

I love this idea David, being the owner of two VW's!!!
I have this huge plethora of words to shape into a story of some sorts..and I appreciate your help.

I've made many cakes of my VW Bus, so this editing should be a piece of cake!!

PEace, Kai

Merisi said...

I can see your point, David. I agree. What I miss is a picture of your beetle cake. Is it parked on the cutting room floor?

BRUNO said...

I don't know about a novel, but I sure wish that I could apply that formula to my past. A LOT of things would have been "edited, or re-written", indeed---even if I would've had to cheat and/or copy...!

Misty Dawn said...

Wonderful advice, as always.

Now, I'm assuming there has to be a photo of that cake around. Come on... you wouldn't have created something like that and not taken a photo of it - I know you better than that ;-)

it's the little things... said...

You are so right. I kept going back and editing all the way through and it was *maddening*!
Thanks for your sage advice on seeking a literary agent as well.

Rachel said...

Great advice and a brilliant analogy!

Mushy said...

Excellent photography and excellent analogy! Good pointers.

I miss Carol...

Cuckoo said...

Hi David,

Great advice and awesome pictures. I am reading every one of your post whether commenting or not is a different matter.

I had posed a question in your last post part 17 on this series. Hoping to get your advice on that as well.

Amrita said...

I love VW Beetles.
Well MAngelo you should have posted a picture of that cake!

Sam said...

quite right!! i meanits true for anything that you are about to do.. if there doesn't exist a definite plan that is.....

~Fathairybastard~ said...

Excellent post. The few times I've started to write something I've always gotten bogged down in editing myself as I went along. Kills the creative process.

Oh yea, and I miss Carol too.

Eve said...

Love It!Well put.

I just made a castle cake for my daughter. :)

ed said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kirti said...

LOVE this advice...good to write, write, write before editing...

BTW, I always wanted to mention that I ADORE how you call your family Mrs. Authorblog and the Authorbloglets...so cutesy...I love cutesy.

And I like "Casa Authorblog" too.

Also impressed by VW cake, but curious why there are no pics??? Hmm...mysterious...