I am editing my book manuscript these days. It’s a kind of love-hate relationship, editing. Some pages I am completely in love with what I have written, and I congratulate myself for being brilliant and take a proverbial bow. Some pages I hate every last word, and I want to highlight and delete my drivel while I slink into a corner. Being the editor of my own work is arduous, albeit necessary.
Editing is taking a toll on me. I drink too much coffee. I eat a lot of chocolate. I listen to loud music. I need silence. I pace. I do mundane things like laundry to avoid more editing. I swear. I cry. I dance to Michael Jackson’s Beat It. I attempt focus. I run away from the screen. I practice staying put and getting on with it. I give myself time to think. I sleep and dream that the pages are falling out of my computer like a snowstorm, lost in the white blizzard of an editing nightmare.
This current edit is one of many rounds of editing but the first with my completed manuscript. This final (haha, I am laughing hysterically) edit will bring me to the place where I can release my work to a “professional” editor. Good god! That is a milestone of mega-proportions, fraught with risk and fear and vulnerability. I could stay here in the safety of my home office with my book as my stealthy companion and never let it see the light of day beyond these walls. Safe yes, but entirely not the point of my efforts.
Daring to believe my work good enough for others to read is an on-again, off-again romance. It’s the worry of “am I sexy enough” juxtaposed with “I am sexy as hell, sister!” I tell parts of my story and search the faces of my listeners for interest and to check if their eyes glaze over while they stifle a yawn. Or if they are genuinely excited and appreciative.
Mostly, the reactions have been positive and encouraging. And ultimately, I must take the good with the bad when it comes to unveiling my story. Some will applaud. Others will criticize harshly. I tell myself that I wrote this not for the masses but for those to whom the story will resonate and matter.
Therein lies the rub of my endeavours. The “WHY” of it all. As the hands of the clock go round and round throughout my days it is easy to get lost in the doing and the doubting, and lose sight of the WHY. There are times when I would rather write poetry than comb through my manuscript. So, I do. I write poetry and publish them on Instagram and wait for someone’s, anyone’s, approval. It’s like a fix, a hit of poetic heroin, that restarts my confidence to keep on keeping on with my book.
Then there is this. My worry of how to get published. Do I self publish? Do I work with one of the agencies that ask for a hefty sum up front to help me edit, design the cover and publish, after which I am on my own? Do I send excerpts of my manuscript to a swath of publishers and wait for inevitable rejections while earnestly hoping and wishing that one of them will see my magnificence and say yes?
I have come a long way, written thousands of words, deleted and rewrote thousands more, and drank a lot of coffee (Starbucks should thank me and help me publish!), to get to this moment where as the writer I need a sort of publishing intervention to save me. Hello. Is there anybody out there?
So, what’s a writer like me to do? First, I admit what I don’t know. I don’t know the publishing side of things. I have no agent or network of people in the business. But it’s not a conundrum. It’s an opportunity. It’s like the blank page that represents the possible even as it stares up you, frighteningly empty. I begin with questions and research. I ask so that I can learn. I seek so that I can find. As I wrote in a blog post some time ago, “What I seek is seeking me.” I know without a doubt that my belief and my actions will lead the way.
I tell you my state of being today as an invitation to look at those times in your own life when you are almost there on a project and ready to give up. You look to yourself for the ability to keep going. You look to those around you for the support to help you make it to your goal. You wrestle with the monster of fear that here, as you glimpse the finish line, you are certain that your work was a colossal waste of your brain cells. Suddenly, the comfort of “just let it die” appeals.
But don’t! Stay with it, my friends. Your dream is about to launch. The dream, that though it may not be perfectly magical or become your greatest acclaim, is still your dream. See it through. Make it real. Dare to complete it. Take on what you don’t know and engage whatever assistance you need. You cannot get this close only to surrender to the enemy of defeat. I know this is true for me. I will bravely enter the publishing arena to win the battle and triumph. Anything less is not on.