The eccentric writer (1) – Writing is a lot like dating

It is funny how, after setting myself up for the umpteenth editing of my 95,000-word novel, I start sweeping the floor instead of sitting in front of my computer. I even go ahead and mop the floor, with a rag… on all fours.

I am looking at Chapter 10 out of the 34 chapters in my book. I have gone through this chapter at least 15 times. The same goes to all my other chapters. We writers, we’re just – for lack of a better term – neurotic like that. We would check our work a hundred times and make amendments as many times just so we are sure of it. Just so we are certain we would want them to be conveyed to our readers that way.

Writing is a lot like dating. The initial part of writing is a lot like the wooing stage of a relationship. Yeah, wooing. I’m that obsolete. It’s the part where you would get excited about getting to know the person you’re interested in before that first date. So you would spend all your time thinking about that person, imagining what it’s like to hold that person’s hand, to have them in your arms, your first kiss, et cetera. And when you’ve finally gotten that first date, that’s when the book is finished.

The second editing is like the second date. You’re still all out to please. You want to look your best. You want to be at your wittiest. You want to act your coolest. You don’t want that person to regret going out with you for a second time.

With every subsequent date, however, you get a little conscious about whether this person really is the one for you or if they think you really are the one for them. You want to impress them but at the same time, you don’t want to put your feelings on the line, just in case that person finds the relationship a bit straining. So you tend to give a little and also pull back a little, sometimes dreading the fact that this particular date could be the one that ends it all.

I am at this stage right now with my book. It’s tedious to go through it over and over again. And emotionally taxing. There are times when I feel that this book wouldn’t even touch the shelves of any bookstore, let alone the bookcases of any household. And then I stumble upon other well-published works and start to smirk at how my work is so much better and would probably sell even better than things like that porn stuff that’s been going around (I don’t even want to mention the title, you go figure it out).

So I assume, when this book finally gets published, that would be our wedding day. At the moment, however, I am still staring at Chapter 10 – which I already know so well – and I am going to start pruning again. Let’s hope Mr Strictly Professional doesn’t get so tired of our ‘dates’ and eventually dumps me.

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