The last few weeks have been frustrating: I seem to be moving through the revisions of my novel at a snail’s pace. I’m not sure why: like most situations, it’s probably a combination of things. First, I’ve hit some thorny plot points that have to be resolved. In the earlier drafts, my plot was sort of patched together and with some distance, I can see the seams showing. Some major shifts have been needed to pump up the drama and improve narrative flow. But I’m not really used to fiction writing and this kind of restructuring is very challenging for me.
Second, we took some time off to go up to Vermont for Alex’s graduation. It was lots of fun, but I think it was more emotional than I realize and I’ve found it tough to get back into my own rhythm. While I’m working hard to anchor myself again, it’s taking longer than I thought it would. And having Alex home is wonderful, but it’s also taking some readjustment, which is surprising me.
These are probably the good reasons for why I’ve been dragging my feet on my redraft. I think the real reason is that every day I’m coming closer to finishing this new version and that’s a little scary. I had some promising responses from agents the first time around, but nothing to write home about. I think I’ve really improved the manuscript, but soon it will be time to send it out into the world again. Energizing myself for a second push is going to take some doing. It’s so much easier to potter away in my little office, inching along. Still, time is marching on and I need to get the book off my desk and out into the world.
Here’s the thing I’m really contending with: Completion is tough. Letting go is tough. Saying that the book is ready — and really meaning it — is tough. It’s so much easier to dwell in the land of possibilities: to be in that place where what I’m writing is still fluid, still totally in my hands. Every decision I make now is locking the story in, solidifying it, setting it on a narrow path.
A part of me really enjoys the more expansive stage of writing, when you just grab ideas and phrases out of the ether, and when you don’t have to worry or care about what anyone else thinks because you’re in a place where you don’t have to please anyone but yourself. I’m finding it hard to reconcile my enjoyment of that sense of freedom with the reality of completion. But that’s a big chunk of what writing dangerously is all about: putting your work out there. So I’m pushing on toward the finish line.
How about you? I’d love to hear what your favorite creative stage is. And let’s all write on.