I have been on hiatus. Getting my book to the first finish line meant eliminating distractions so that I could devote my undivided attention to editing. My blog, while tempting, had to be put aside.
Editing my own work was tedious. Word by word, line by line I combed through the stack of pages that now represent a working manuscript. I edited, corrected and rewrote. Supported by many cups of coffee and tea, I translated countless red pen marks on the pages onto my laptop screen. When I stepped back to say, “I am done,” it felt like a victory. Pour the wine. Let’s celebrate kind of moment!
But not so fast … the next step is let other people read it. I need an editor, or several. There will more work before the final manuscript and publication.
The word publish presents both a hopeful and terrifying proposition. Taking what I have written and making it a physical book to go out into the world means embracing risk while believing in possibility. I wrote in solitude and have finally accomplished a document that can now be released for wider perusal. The singular writing mode was easy and safe with only me to approve or criticize, accept or reject. The eyes of others will take me to vulnerability and risk. But also growth and the willingness to improve.
A published book is my ultimate goal. To get there means letting others critique, validate and support me through revisions until the best version of my book is accomplished. I have been down the long, lonely road of writing and have arrived at the juncture where I invite others to join me.
As I prepare to meet with other writers and editors, I am rereading my copy of Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, a book I have used since the 1990s. She makes sense of the writing process as one that requires daily, consistent commitment to get to what you really want to say. Stacks of journals attest to my countless hours of writing over the years. Those journals serve a central purpose – to get me to the good stuff, to what I really want to say. Much of what ended up in my book derived from the longhand, original versions of my story that were scratched onto notebook pages over the years.
During my hiatus I found two things that greatly encouraged me. First, focus is a powerful motivator. The more I focused, the more pages I got through and the better I felt at the end of the day. Focus let me shut out the unnecessary in favour of the important. Second, I fell back in love with my work. I reconnected with why I started writing my book in the first place. As I read it from start to finish I saw my months of effort before me, signalling how worthwhile it was to commit to doing something, and then doing it. I made it happen.
My hiatus was a reaffirmation of dream, vision, and effort. What my book may bring as financial reward will pale in comparison to what it brings in personal satisfaction. It is the work that I would do (have done) with no certainty of monetary reward, because it is dearest to my heart. As my mother said to me, it is my life work and that has a calling all its own.
I encourage you to take a hiatus from time to time. Clear that long, normal list from your calendar and focus on the one thing that matters most to you. Dig in. Let it consume you. Take the love-it, hate-it, sweat-it, curse-it, onerous, when-will-it-end, must-get-it-done, determined ride to your goal. With it will come your certainty, your power and your resolve to attain the dream you started with.