The Unbearable Awfulness of Something I Wrote Last Year

facepalm by Jes

Facepalm: I write the prose that makes the ancestors weep…

I’ve started on the next writing thing.  I’m working on something I started writing last year.  I made the mistake of looking back over some of what I’d previously written.


It’s pretty bad in some (many) (maybe most) places.  It needs a lot of editing work.

Which of the various options did I decide to work on? It’s probably pretty easy to predict.  I’m back (finally) to working on my novel (CodeName: Book of M).  And what I’ve written so far is nowhere near what I want it to be.  It doesn’t reflect the tone and quality of the story in my head… not at all.

But! I am resisting the urge to edit/revise/rewrite/whatever.  I allowed myself the indulgence of a small number of notes – two or three – but on the whole I am pressing forward.  Slowly, mind you.  I haven’t written much by way of new material yet.  But the old book is moving in the right direction.  Hey, maybe in another decade-ish, some, all, or none of you dear readers will actually be able to read it!

My operating plan, currently, is to press ahead a certain amount on the Book of M project until I reach some predetermined point.  I haven’t yet predetermined that point, but it’ll be something like hitting a particular wordcount goal, or completing a particular scene, or writing consistently over a certain period of time.  Whenever I hit that milestone, I’ll temporarily switch gears to focus on a shorter story project.  This way I don’t let the novel consume all my writing time and prevent myself from writing short-stories, which have a shorter market lifespan.

Image Source: “Facepalm” by Jes, CC BY-SA

9 thoughts on “The Unbearable Awfulness of Something I Wrote Last Year

  1. Unfortunately going back over that stuff is the only way to revise! But I know your pain. You’re always better than you were in the past – so there’s catchup to do. Though sometimes working on the next thing is the wiser idea. Happy writing!

  2. Well, in this case, since the earlier-written stuff are previous chapters in the same book, it seems like the preferred method would be to focus on writing new chapters rather than revising old ones. Otherwise, I could easily get trapped in an endless loop of rewriting the first few chapters.

  3. I don’t revise until I’m done with the first draft; then I go back and rewrite. No point looking back when you need to plow forward. But yeah … I know that pain–seeing the first draft.

      • I know what you mean. I typically take years to finish a project, and to be honest, I’m not sure I’ve actually finished anything. I just keep revising, never convinced it’s good enough.

  4. I always remember the immortal words of Ed Wood: “The worst movie you ever saw? Well, my next one will be better!”

    We are often our own worst readers. A blog buddy recently read A Sane Woman (my first novel), and she said enjoyed it. I enjoy it when I read it also, but I do see a lot of things that I would do differently now. (Why did I have such an aversion to semicolons?? 🙂 )

    • For the most part, I feel that way about the short stories I’ve written over the past few years. (I’m averaging like 1 a year, which isn’t great, but at least it’s not nothing.) In general, they’re on an upward trajectory in improving quality, and are light-years ahead of anything I wrote more than 5 years ago.

      So, that’s the right direction, right?

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