Friday, August 5, 2011

More lessons in "The Year of Being a Writer"

This week has taken on a lovely rhythm and I'm sad to see it go.

My son spent half the day at circus camp, and I used that time to write/revise like the wind.

He'd come and we'd have lunch.

He'd read from his summer reading book and I'd write some more.

Then we'd read together.


That was pretty nice. But at the end of next week, I'll be starting on another freelance job and life will go back to its usual frenzy. My goal? To finish this revision before the freelance package arrives.

I am very nervous about this project because it was something I wrote knowing full well it might not sell. Well, I mean, that is true of every project, obviously. But I think this one has only one publisher I could sub it to, so that adds pressure.

When I was debating whether to write the story, knowing it could well be a "waste of time," my husband pointed out that this is clearly a story I need to tell, so I should write it and not worry about whether or not anyone would buy it. It's like what Jack Gantos said last weekend. "I think about what I want to write, not what I want to sell." So far that seems to have worked out pretty well for him, right?

As I make these final changes, I still have trouble quieting that horrid voice of doubt questioning whether I should have spent the last year and more working on this project. But with each edit, the voice gets a little more faint. Now, it's replaced with the imagined voices of my agent and editor, pointing out the remaining flaws as I try to read the words through their eyes and predict how they'll react to each chapter, each scene. But mostly, I know that is impossible. What I really need to do, is trust my own eyes. My own heart. So eventually I will try to quiet their voices, too.

Instead, I return to Jennifer Richard Jacobson's wise advice, and ask myself, "Is it true yet?"

Nearly. It nearly is.

We write to share the truths we need to tell. We write because discovering them leads us to a better understanding of ourselves and each other. Even though the discovery process can be brutal, we still need to do it. We need to allow ourselves to do it. Sometimes, we need to force ourselves. But what I've learned this time around is that, however painful it is, however long it takes, and whatever happens next, it wasn't a waste of time.

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