Time for an overhaul.
Revisions make me paranoid.
Nothing is ever perfect. First drafts are messy. Unruly. Even cringe-worthy. So when I read through three or more sentences in a row and can’t think of a way to make them better, I immediately assume that I’m messing it up. I expect to have to fix something in every single sentence. “Fixed” covers everything from “rewording this drek to make it sound like a person, not a robot”* to “I shall delete this sentence with all of the withering scorn that it deserves.”
Even when I manage to convince myself that it’s fine, doubt immediately sets in. “Reeeeally. You think you nailed those sentences on the first go. Ooooook. I mean, if that’s how you feel, that’s… no, it’s fine. Really. By the way, how’s the day job going? Is it looking solid? Oh, no, no reason, just wondering…”
I’m also aware of how crazy I look while I’m doing it, and that doesn’t help. I try to go slowly and read everything aloud so that I can hear how it sounds, but I also try to do it in a way that won’t annoy anyone who happens to be within earshot. The result? I whisper to myself constantly, make weird faces, have arguments with myself under my breath (and, umm, maybe sometimes it gets a little louder than it should, because hello, argument), track the rhythm of random sentences like I’m conducting an orchestra (or jab at the air as though it has offended me), and occasionally appear to be attempting to re-mold my face with my fingers.
Side note: If you plan on speaking in public, recording yourself and watching it so that you can identify and eliminate weird little tics is a great idea. Otherwise, it’s a terrible idea. I can’t believe that my face does that. And what’s with that thing, that thing with my tongue, why can’t I stop doing that?!
* Unless it’s an actual robot. Then things get tricky. Is it a robot that’s supposed to sound like a person, or a robot that’s supposed to sound like a robot? Or is it a robot that’s supposed to sound like it’s trying to sound like a person, but it really only sounds like a robot trying to sound like a person and failing? Freaking robots.
* * *
I was scrolling through the photos on my phone this morning, and as soon as I spotted this one, I thought, “THIS! This is where I get my ideas!”
It really is. Walking around a corner and discovering that a giant plastic sheet is blocking the entrances to both of the restrooms immediately sends my brain on a little scenario rampage. It’s just unannounced construction, right?
Or maybe it’s an exceptionally brazen (not to mention well-prepared) serial killer. He (or she) knows that we’ll just assume it’s construction and walk right on by. Meanwhile, he’s in there doing horrible things right under our noses.
Or maybe it’s not a serial killer. Maybe it’s a spy, and he or she set up a listening post in there. Right now, foreign powers are getting real-time updates about the fact that I forgot to stick an emergency caffeine source in my bag this morning. They now know that caffeine deprivation turns me into something resembling a gremlin that’s been fed after midnight. They know my weakness.
Or maybe somebody opened up a door to another realm, and they can’t get it to close again. Or maybe…