I can’t read anything I’ve written – story, blog post, note to a teacher, shopping list – without wanting to make changes. I make changes all the time. Words, sentences, phrases, punctuation. Everything is up for grabs – barring the main theme and (usually) character names, although I think I may have actually renamed a character during a bout of excessive tweaking, once.
I’m never entirely happy with what I see on the page – it could always, always, always be better. Even when it makes me laugh, or smile, or I love a character I’ve just written and that is exactly something he’d say – it is never quite perfect.
Recently, I needed to proof read the first three chapters of my story because I was starting at the beginning to bring that final polish. That was it – I. just. needed. to. proofread. Right. Because I’m capable of ‘just’ doing anything. (I’m one of those people who ‘just pops upstairs to grab X’ and returns three hours letter with five half started cleaning jobs, two medal winningly tidy bedrooms, a small nap under my belt and without the thing I went to grab.)
So I started proofreading (and hopefully I finished the proofreading) but I also did a dangerous thing. I tweaked. I swear my fingers do it on their own, without any permission from my brain – they’re in total cahoots with my eyes. My eyes see an issue, my fingers fix it. Never mind the potential errors I’m introducing by typing new content.
You see, my first draft is always sketchy. I think I may have mentioned that before. Often, ideas come faster than I can flesh them out, so the bones go down first. Sketchy, skeletal… those two words equally describe my first drafts.
And I’m one of life’s messers. I prefer to think ‘perfectionist’ but I’ve yet to produce anything truly perfect so I really do just mess. 🙂 I play with words, with how they sound, what they say… and then I’m happy. Until the next time, when I read over and tweak some more.
I get worse. I tweak text, but I mither my ideas. I worry them relentlessly, talking to those I know will listen about this idea, or that one – does it work, could it work if I just…? Is it too far fetched? Am I relying too much on suspension of disbelief? But the ideas thing eventually stops. I commit them to paper, get them to work and I’m back to just tweaking. Every time I open the file.
For me, the devil really is in the detail.
(I totally just tweaked this blog post right now.)