I was pretty excited when my 12th grade English teacher started handing out Play-Doh; it was like being back in K-5! But she didn’t give it to us just to play. We were to fashion our own creatures. They would be our very own special creations.
When we weren’t playing with Play-Doh, we were reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, in which Victor Frankenstein pieces together and then abandons a monstrous-looking person (even though I’ve read the book, I still sometimes fall in to the common misconception that the monster is called Frankenstein). At the end of the story, Dr. Frankenstein is forced to seek out and try to destroy his rampaging creation.
After we finished reading the book, we were told to mash-up and then throw away our Play-Doh creations. The objects we had put so much effort and creativity and time in to, we had to destroy. The point of the Play-Doh exercise: how does it feel to destroy your own creation? It hurts.
I feel that “creator affection” for most everything I’ve written. It’s hard to give up on a story; and it’s even hard to make changes to it. I cling to that phrase or to that scene, and though something tells me that I should change it or chuck it, I don’t want to. Sometimes there is an “I just don’t know how to improve it” kind of desperation playing into my reluctance, but mostly it’s just a deep love (and pride) for something I’ve made.
Sometimes I face the pain and make the necessary changes, or maybe I decide to put it aside for a while and come back later when I’m a little more detached and sensible of my responsibility to the work as a whole. The lesson I learned: it hurts to re-write, but it’s better in the end. My loyalty should be to my book, not to its blemishes.
Talking of love for your creations reminds me of God’s wise love for us, His beloved creations, that keeps Him trying to make us better no matter how much it pains Him or us. Like it says in one of my favorite children’s church songs, I’m glad “He’s still working on me.
He’s Still Working on Me to Make Me What I Ought to be By Joel Hemphill
He’s still working on me to make me what I ought to be.
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient He must be, He’s still working on me.
There really ought to be a sign upon the heart,
Don’t judge her yet, there’s an unfinished part.
But I’ll be perfect just according to His plan
Fashioned by the Master’s loving hands.
Question: Do you have a hard time editing your stories? I often save a copy of the original, just to make myself feel better; I’m not totally losing it then.