I worked on a novel for several years until putting it away to work on other writing projects and grants. When I put it away, I had in my mind that it was a great novel. Over time, it became even greater.
Two weeks ago, I decided to work on it for publication later this year. I thought the writing was good, but the plot was not good. After two weeks, I had hacked away at my great novel, taking out large sections. I eliminated characters and added to what plot was left.
These were major changes to a novel I thought did not need any changes to. This is one of the most important things I learned over the years about my writing: never be devoted to what was written.
Most people dislike changes, including writers. I think writers get better by how they overcome this dislike. It was not an easy decision redoing my great novel, but I thought readers would not like it (I didn’t really like it). My novel will be better (I hope) with my changes.
Every writer will produce something they think is great, whether it’s a story or a grant proposal (or even a blog post). I am suspicious whenever I think that what I wrote is great. The more I think this, the less likely it is. The only problem is accepting that the work needs changes.
This is where editing is important. I meandered from the central plot with unneeded side stories and undeveloped characters. Soon I will need to know when to stop editing. Too much is like the writer is trying for greatness.
I’m not looking for greatness. I’m looking to write the best story I can that I hope is at least pretty good.