Over at the Blog Spontaneous Derivation, there’s a short essay about how serial writing/publishing is an excellent way to force yourself to complete a project, and The Electric Church gets used as a positive example of how it can lead to good work. The idea being that sometimes our interior editor keeps us revising endlessly, never satisfied, even though the first draft might have been 90% ready for prime time.
I’m a big believer in this, obviously. I’ve already covered how TEC got written and how I enjoyed and learned from the process, but to be honest I’ve never been a perfectionist when it comes to writing. I hate revising. I always think the first draft is the punchiest, the most passionate, and the most fun – while I acknowledge that my first drafts are also in dire need of a copy-edit and a plot scan, I don’t think any book or story improves much from simply re-writing the same thoughts in supposedly superior language. I always just do a rough draft, then a revision just for typos and glaring problems with plot where I obviously changed my mind or forgot something I did in chapter 4, and a small amount of line-fixing. Then I show it around to people I trust, ignore their heartfelt advice, and maybe do a final revision just to work out some kinks. In other words, I don’t ever re-write chunks of text simply because I’m dissatisfied. Whatever it says about me as an artist or whatever, I more or less like my first drafts.
This is especially true about the actual language. If you point out plot holes, or give me a grand idea about how to resolve plot things more elegantly or more explosively – better, in other words – I’m happy to tinker. But if you say “Your line here about the drunken elephant is kind of awkward” I’m more likely to smile politely, tell you I’ll take a look at it, and then grouse all the way home about how I like the drunk elephant line. And then ignore you.
Of course, this may be hubris, and history may mark me down as a lazy man who refused to revise his writing because he was, as scientists term it, “not smart”. My rampage across the (semi) literary world continues, unabated!