I don’t know how it feels to be a parent with children. Yet, I know exactly how it feels to be a parent of my writing. All articles, all anecdotes, all dialogs, all social media updates, all notes I jot down on any surface, whether it be a sheet of paper, or a word processor application are my brainchild. They are undoubtedly my children even though some of them are my foster, god or step children. Regardless of the varied statuses and origins, I feel like having to nurture them all, without exception.
Thus, when I find someone or some critics or reviewers or anyone throwing some harsh comments, all of sudden I get rather emotional and defensive. When I see myself later on, I could observe how anxious I turned as to how to secure all of my writing from the attacks directed towards them.
Then I remember what J. K. Rowling stated once in her book interview with American author Ann Patchett. Rowling’s husband Neil called her “ruthless”. For The Casual Vacancy, she exhaustively wrote all the details of autopsy (or post mortem, as she put it first because she is Scottish) for days and then decided that the chunk of narration was irrelevant and deleted it. Just like that. No remorse. It felt too graphic and should not belong there, she reasoned.
As authors, Rowling went on, we need to know when to be ruthless. That said, I came to realization that if I want to be a better writer, I have to get rid of being too overprotective towards my writing. Like Rowling, I must have the heart to chop unnecessary fluffy stuff down and focus on what matters.
So I turned to Facebook and wrote:”I don’t know if this is normal. But I write and hardly ever edit anything. Because I’m nervous, what if the second time I read it, it looks horrible.”
A friend commented that even my first draft managed to wow him. I confessed to him,”I suck at editing actually, chopping down the hard-earned sentences. It’s like amputating your own baby, because every composition coming out of this head is sort of my child. Bad or good, it is part of me. But I know editing is a must to achieve or at the very least to get closer to perfection.”
What do you think? Is it ok to be a little bit overprotective or is it better to be ruthless? Have your say.