I think I’m okay with that, for the most part. I’m allowed to be pretentious, since I’m capable of recognizing pretension.
I’m capable of editing my own pretentiousness into submission, is the important thing. I can write in whatever the hell mood I want to, so long as I know how to look at it later, discover something of what I was trying to say, and fish it out from the murky depths of whatever else was in my head at the time of vomiting. Which may be pretension, and some of it may stay stuck to the revised product, and that’s still okay.
Reading makes me a much better editor than writing does, for certain. It is much, much easier to kill your darlings once you’ve seen for yourself a thousand times what other people’s spoiled darlings look like.
I think it took me a long time to knit this connection together: what I read is what other people write.
To be fair, it’s a multipartite conclusion. Other people write so many sorts of things, and so do I (though fewer sorts, by necessity). I read so many sorts of ways, in so many moods.
But editing, now. Editing is the overlap between writing and reading. Editing is trying to reverse-engineer the bones of the document, trying to pick apart its skin and knit it together again when it’s done poorly or in a way that bespells disaster for the writer or reader later on. Reading, and reading, and reading, eventually turns at least a little bit into editing. Or at least, it does when you’re reading unvarnished, un-big-published work like what’s on AO3. Which is the bulk of what I’ve been reading these days.
Writing, and writing, and writing, might eventually converge on the same mean. I do know that after reading Impro, I want to write a great deal more. For every twenty times I think it, I do it once. Or about that. It’s fun just to spit out words, and see what they say. I don’t make so little sense as all that. Eventually, I might make more; but it seems so much easier to write oneself to a standstill. It seems obvious, even mathematically so: there will always be more to read than to write.
Maybe the problem is misconstructed. Given a finite amount of time, could I spend it all writing? I think so. A larger collection of potentials on one side of the scale doesn’t necessarily translate to a larger collection of actual possibilities. I could write, and write, and write, and never stop, and eventually converge on something that I like (whether what’s changing is the writing or my liking, and most likely both would); and given the nearness of one human mind to another, and my relatively unanomalous nature, somebody would like to read it. It almost doesn’t matter. I could just write anyway, it’s cheap enough.
It’s amusing to think so.