Saturday, August 2, 2008

Writing Comes First

Back when I interviewed David LaPoint, I asked him if being an editor gave him insight to being a better writer.

He replied, “not really.” Then he went on to say that he actually thought it made him a worse writer. That struck me as both interesting and disturbing.

Recently, I’ve heard editors lamenting that they wished they could create, how they would rather write than edit, and how many editors struggled for publication just like a normal writer. They envy us. It struck me that they only edited because they couldn’t write.

I’m big into preparation. I like plans, spreadsheets, and checklists. I outline as I write because I hate flying without backup. I love the fluidity of creating, but I also like the accomplished sense I get from revising. And it’s really, really easy for me to cancel my writing session for the day, in lieu of polishing a short story.

Get that? It’s easy. Editing is easier. We all know it hurts and sucks. But have you ever noticed you can revise when you can’t create?

I think editing it essential because it shows a writer there is room for improvement, more things to learn. But I think editing also creates the awareness that a writer can never learn everything, and that on some level, they will always be a failure.


With this in mind, my question to you is: why is it so important that writing comes first?

Similar post: Quality vs Quantity. 

-Creative A 


David Isaak said...

TS Eliot put it nicely:

"It's true that most editors are failed writers. But, then, so are most writers."

Suzanne Vincent said...

As a writer and editor, I have to say that part of the appeal to being an editor is you get to read some really great stuff without having to work to do so.

Someone else does all the sweating blood of putting pen to paper, you just get to a) enjoy and b) dash their dreams.

KIDDING! Actually, sending out rejections is probably the hardest part. We all know what it's like to send out your baby and have someone tell you it's not quite as beautiful as you believe.

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