We authors are required to wear many hats — author, publicist, fedora, beret (preferably in raspberry ... See how I just slid that Prince reference in there? God rest his fabulous soul). In all seriousness, I get asked about my "process" a lot. I think it's a common question to throw at an author. So today I want to talk to you about two of the hats I wear most frequently — writing and editing.
My writing process and my editing process look very different. It's kind of like I have to unscrew my head like Dr. Finkelstein in Nightmare Before Christmas and change brains. And often, when I'm transitioning from one to the other, it takes me a hot minute to figure out that I'm wearing the wrong brain. I cannot write with my editor's mind. And I cannot edit with my writer's mind. And here's why ...
When I write, I have to flow. I must be unrestricted, undiluted, completely without guardrails. I tap into a vein through a word or idea, and then I just let that shit spurt all over the page. And it gets messy. BOY does it get messy. But it is absolutely rapturous when I find a squirter (uh-uh, eyes up here, minds out of the gutter). It is an energetic free fall where the gates between mind and body and page are blown wide open and a pure stream of consciousness is transmitted in the trappings of story. A very real part of my brain, that is normally in control, calling shots, checking IDs, is taken into a back room, tucked into a soft bed, and chloroformed into a nice, deep, out-of-the-way sleep so my writer demons can come out to play. And they frolic and run amok and cavort and scamper and get into all manner of mischief until the chloroform wears off, and a very grumpy adult-brain wakes up and stuffs them back into the godforsaken Dybbuk box they emerged from.
Not the case when I edit.
If I let my writer demons do the editing, my manuscripts would be 900 pages of run-on sentences and mixed metaphors. The info-dumps would be LEGENDARY.
No, when the editor in my mind takes over, she blows a steady stream of nitrous oxide into the Dybbuk box and wraps it in duct tape and cable wire. She does not traffic with writer demons. She takes no chances.
My editor mind is more like that over-eager hairdresser who talked you into a pixie cut in college (Do I hear buzzing? Why do I hear buzzing?) when you learned the hard way that your head is asymmetrical. She will cut a bitch. She has a shriveled, year-old raisin where her heart should be. And she does not give a good goddamn how witty or lyrical or poetic (You call this poetry? Really? You need to get out more) you think that sentence is. She is a slasher film on crystal meth. All she cares about is how relevant a paragraph or sentence or phrase or word is to TELLING THE STORY. If it does not advance the story, it does not need to stay. She has absolutely no emotional attachment to the work whatsoever. She is a beast, a machine. And she gives me the middle finger every time I tear up at seeing another one of my word-babies reduced to ribbons.
When she takes over, the fun comes to an end. She is all business. Her job is to analyze, and it is the opposite of what I need to write. But it is exactly what I need to edit.
But it never fails that I will sit down to edit without having secured the demons in their box, forgetting entirely that I am in the wrong frame of mind. And after a couple of agonizing pages, I'll wonder, "Why is this so hard?" And then I'll feel the pitter-patter of tiny demon feet leaving adverbs across my mind, and it will finally occur to me that I have not done my due diligence and made that all-important switch.
I can't speak for other writers. I have no idea how they do it. Perhaps they have a djinn or a muse or some other more complex being capable of multi-tasking hiding out in their heads. Good for them. Perhaps they don't have to literally flip from one part of their brain to the other the way Mr. Rogers would always change his coat and shoes at the beginning of each episode. This is just what seems to work for me.
RESURRECTION GIRLS - Out Now!
Olivia stopped living the day her brother died. Three years ago, Robby toddled into the backyard pool and drowned. Olivia can no longer remember what it feels like to really be alive, until the Hallas women move in across the street. Kara, who is Olivia's age, has morbid fascinations—but Olivia's family has secrets of their own. The deeper Kara draws Olivia into the impulsive and seductive web of her world, the more Olivia finds herself confronting the unraveling of her family's connection to the land of the living.
"This book skillfully illustrates that everyone deals with grief in their own way and in their own time." –School Library Connection, recommended
Psst! A little birdie told me RESURRECTION GIRLS will be getting a new cover for paperback release soon. But, you know, fuck that bird. OR subscribe to my newsletter for the cover release + book, event, and blog updates. Subscribe to (very cool, not at all annoying) newsletter here: VERY COOL NOT AT ALL ANNOYING NEWSLETTER LINK.