Writing & Fleming

I have an annoying tendency to edit and reedit as I’m writing my story.

I say it’s annoying, but in actual fact I love doing it and can’t imagine not doing it.

And that’s the problem.

It means I end up stalling at one specific point in the story for far too long, and so the story doesn’t move forward as fast as I’d like it to.

Is this an issue with being a perfectionist? Is it a crazy idea or belief that my first draft will be exposed and ridiculed, and all the doubts I had as a writer will be proven correct?

Didn’t Hemingway do this?

Didn’t he start the writing day by reading what he’d previously written, making edits as he went, and when it got too long he simply reread and edited the last 5,000 words or so—just to get into the story, to get into the mood, the vibe?

Maybe I’m trying to justify my lack of confidence as a writer.

But surely every writer has Those Doubts, right?

(And we continue to write in the face of them.)

Last night I read an article about Ian Fleming, the author best known for penning the James Bond novels.

The article includes excerpts from the book, The Man with the Golden Typewriter (which has been added to me ever-growing to-read list).

He talks about his lack of confidence:

‘I was too ashamed. No publisher would want it and if they did I would not have the face to see it in print.’ 

And the article gives an insight into how he worked…

‘I rewrote nothing and made no corrections until my book was finished,’ he said. ‘If I had looked back at what I had written the day before I might have despaired at the mistakes in grammar and style, the repetitions and the crudities. And I obstinately closed my mind to self-mockery and “what will my friends say?” I savagely hammered on until the proud day when the last page was done. The last line “The bitch is dead now” was just what I felt. I had killed the job.’

But how do you do this? How can you let a hole in the plot stay a hole? Don’t you want to fill it, correct it, perfect it, and THEN move on?

I might give it a go… just write to the end without correcting anything whatsoever.

Or maybe I won’t.

Here’s the article.


Published by Gavin Whyte

I am the author of the modern-day fables The Girl with the Green-Tinted Hair, and Happiness & Honey, plus several other works of fiction.

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