On Writing: The Value of Editing

I have a confession to make. If you were to ask me my biggest flaws as a writer, I’d probably mutter an excuse about purple prose before ashamedly admitting to my greatest writing sin: I despise editing.


I never edited my first series of (unpublished) novels. I am sure that if I were to read far enough into them, they’d be riddled with plot holes and whole legions of spelling and grammar mistakes that are the hallmarks of a first draft.


I wrote those 1,076 pages – roughly 350,000 words – when I was in my early teens. It just doesn’t feel right to go back and change the words and ideas I labored so long over. There is something sacred about one’s first work, and I cannot bring myself to break the spell I cast so many years ago.


I am beginning to see the virtues of editing, particularly as I tend to discovery write my fiction. I am also starting to go back and rework some of my poems, though I still find editing a struggle.


I am on the third draft of this poem:


The Last of the Snows Came in May

it quickened my heart
to see the new buds in your garden
wither and turn their faces back
to the loamy soil that birthed them,
and whose final freezing, like the closing of a door,
had brought with it the cold breath of Chaos,
face pale and bloodless, as yours had been,
curling my shaking fingers
’round some glittering, ill-omened thing;
our promise ring.


An earlier draft is also published on this site, should you like to see the progress I’ve made. I am still working on the poem, still changing and tweaking and fiddling.


If pressed to say why editing is so difficult for me, I would explain that I get far too attached to my writing – my characters, my prose, my metaphors; everything.


To call on those who have quoted and misquoted Faulkner, I suppose I must ‘kill my darlings’ more often.


I’m off to do just that.





I come from the forest

Where dreams go to die,

And the smell of loam,
Deep and dark,


Disguises our every secret;
Where the silence,

Impenetrable as the fortress along the shore

Where impossible wishes spawn,

Swallows every sound.

Devil May Cry




The Prince of Hell was wearing a crown of thorns,

And the fruits of the tree had similarly fallen, ripe and round and ready,

Upon the fertile soil of an Eden in sublime abandon,

And Lucifer’s heart, hollow by day,

Had drunk deeply of the dusk light

In a world upon which the sun never set,

But now, as night bled into day,

He wondered how to strike his devil’s bargain with the unmerciful clock,

Contemplated why so many philosophers

Had wondered how many angels can dance upon the head of a pin,

When it was so clear to him

That he was the only one who would ever be made to do so;

“The Devil made me do it,”

He’d say, delirious,

As another night passed,

Dawn Light, Dawn Bright


Glorious daybreak,

And the city lay shining in the distance,

Further inland,

Miles from these golden shores,

Draped in the finery of dawn’s light –

Blindingly, beseechingly bright.


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I can see in you

That this night brings about the sweetest of sorrows,

The clouds of our breath

Forming halos ‘round our lips;

They are there one moment,

And gone the next,

This fleeting thing we call peace;

It, too, is there, then gone;

It, too, flares and fades,

Crystals forming, faltering;


The Boulevard


I’d walk for miles just to get back there,

Back to the fullness of my youth,

Back to the sweetness of summer,

The petrol fumes pungent in the August air,

Cherry ice cream on my lips,

The Boulevard,

Where I went to watch life,

As it happened without me,

While I stood on the median

In the midst of the swirling gas stains on the asphalt

And the blaring of horns,

And me,
Watching, waiting, silent, still,

Seeing the Boulevard not as she was,

But as she wanted to be –

A dusty road that led only unto itself,

Upon which the sun was always setting.


A Letter to Myself



It’s one of those nights.


One where the stars are too still in their orbits,

And I can imagine the scent of your perfume

Lazily wafting its way around the room,

And a love song – French, because those are the kind you liked best –

Is lingering in the air,

A mere whisper

Competing with the sounds of the rain

Tapping its melody upon the windowpane,

And the train hurtling through space and time,

Carrying me far from where I was,

Yet bringing me no closer to where I meant to be,

And the fruits of my youth lay wasted at my feet,

And a kind of melancholy that only visits me when I think of you

 Like a cloak I put upon shoulders so that I can wear your sorrows,

If only so you can dream a dream of peace, tonight,

Has taken hold,

And I burn and yearn to make right my wrongs,

To make my peace with my Gods,

And I sit here, staring into your soul,

So revealed in the brights of the eyes I see reflected back at me,

And I pray for both of our salvations,

And I blink and you are gone;

One of those nights

When I wish I could take wing

And travel back through time to be where you are.



It’s one of those nights.