Emily VanDerWerff: “On editing”

I really enjoyed this piece from Emily VanDerWerff’s Episodes newsletter, describing the editing process from her experiences as a writer. This bit, especially, echoes my own feelings every time I sit down to write a blog post, an article, a talk — anything, really:

The trick of rewriting isn’t really about writing, actually. It’s about emotion. The second you realize something doesn’t work in your writing, it’s tempting to fall down a spiral of self-loathing — if your writing isn’t good enough, does that mean you aren’t good enough? The best writers are the people who’ve brute forced their way through this natural emotional process to realize that their work isn’t them. But even they will have that brief twinge of, “Am I worthless??” that so often strikes when somebody says, “So, I have some notes…”

After starting out with that common writer’s struggle, however, Emily then proceeds to discuss/review Susan Choi’s recent novel Trust Exercise, and how it deals with the malleability of memory. Emily connects that to her own experiences coming out as trans and how that has provided a very different lens through which to view her childhood memories.

I loved this essay — it starts out with a common writer’s lament, rushes headlong into a book that I’d read but only vaguely remember, and connects it to a deeply personal story of understanding, accepting, and celebrating one’s self. It’s not neat or tidy in any way, but you can feel the life and heat coming off of it.