Listening to every heart
I am procrastinating, and in the act of putting off what needs to be done, have reached the level of finding an excuse. Mark Twain is always good for an excuse.
There are some books that refuse to be written. They stand their ground year after year and will not be persuaded. It isn't because the book is not there and worth being written -- it is only because the right form of the story does not present itself. There is only one right form for a story and if you fail to find that form the story will not tell itself.
It is March, 2004. In March, 2002, I started a small piece of prose. A couple or more of well-intentioned poets/writers/artists-in-their-own-right said, “more, please.” Hey, I like pleasing people. So after about 20 such responses to the “please, more” requests, someone said [I won’t name her, I will thank her, but I won’t name her, she knows who she is… ] “this is too good to stay on here – get it off before someone steals it, and get the whole thing written.”
Good advice. Ron, dear that he is, helped me out because that was before I had universal “poofing” powers, and removed all 20 some posts.
And so the story grew. Life being what it is, I would walk away from it because, heck, poetry seemed a little easier, and a lot more fun, interaction and reactions being what they are. Every now and then I would send some updates to my “Dingers” [poets who wanted to be notified of updates], those who said, “let us know how it’s going to turn out.” Encouragement abounded, all the way around.
Time went on. There were some days when the novel seemed to take on a life of its own; hours would disappear into the daylight, and chapters would just..appear. Some generous muse was apparently bored with what it was doing elsewhere, so for amusement, would visit me, and fill my mind with schemes and lines so fast my fingers could barely keep up.
When life kept me from getting back to the book, I fretted. When I had time, but no muse, I fretted.
And when January 4, 2004 came along to close the final chapter of the book? I fretted.
In a display of complete trust, I gave the book to three individuals. One copy when to my trusted friend, mentor, advisor, and subsequently, editor, Louise, to read, and edit. Then another copy went to a wonderful couple who live in Houston, and I didn’t fret that I had to watch their faces as they read [or didn’t read] the four hundred plus pages.
In the hands of others, I knew my rough draft was safe. It was like a mini-vacation for the mind, knowing I didn’t have to get to it; and alternatively, it was a mini-vacation from my child, and I didn’t know if I would survive the holiday. I was sure my child was glad I was no longer fretting over it, but wondered if it missed me as much as I did it.
And then it was returned to me in two ways. The first way was to get some much appreciated feedback from my Houston friends. Objective feedback, at that. “Supplement this person’s life; create a little more tension; no, you’re fine there, but add this here…” All good thoughts. They weren’t mangling my child; they were dressing it for a command performance.
Then, Louise returned my original baby to me. Unsure of how much to slash and cut, she was kind and “learned to read” in my voice. As we discussed her thoughts on it, my own thought was; she’s my friend. She was “over-kind” to me, and didn’t even use a red pen. So we discussed some of the suggestions made by the Houstonites, some nodding and shaking of heads occurred, and my “baby” came home.
That was the first of March.
Now? Now I’ve gone through eleven chapters and yes, the novel is undergoing a full re-write. I think I shocked poor Louise when I told her I was taking my voice “out”, and putting “everyone’s” voice in. I have a lot of friends around the world, but in reality, if this book IS ever picked up by someone who says “yes, we may have found a , then I know it’s got to be readable by those who do NOT know me.
So tonight, I’m procrastinating. I think what has happened is I am wondering if I am slashing, adding, editing, revising TOO much. Or, it’s going so smoothly, and making too much sense, that I could soon be at the end of the re-writing process, and the time to find an agent will be upon me. I will have to write a proposal and sell myself, as well as the premise of the storyline.
If I were a bride, I would call the syndrome, cold feet.
But I’m a middle-aged, twice-married, professional woman who is wondering why I cannot simply say to myself: You have a good job, you are respected in the community, you give of your time to this and that and your grandchildren, your mother-in-law, your husband, your friends; you are not super-intelligent and you are not naďve. So, why are you pushing yourself toward possible failure?
Because I can?
Because I must?
My heart is pounding. I know I am at a cross-roads. If this adventure finds success, I know it will change my life. I’m weighing how much change I can afford to take on.
I’m looking at Twain’s quote again. This book did not refuse to be written. It seemed, for the most part, to be telling of, and writing, itself.
There. I think I’ve talked myself out of this period of procrastination.
Thank you, Serenity. I don’t know that I could have put down these thoughts anywhere else.
Yes, me too, you.