Hey gang. I finished a big chunk of my manuscript but I felt things weren't quite holding together. I turned it over to my editor, Ginger, and asked that we do a review to see what areas should be built up and what should be discarded or deemphasized. I knew certain concepts needed more details but being so close to my subject I couldn't judge for myself.
I received a pleasant email from the editor saying she was really happy with my first draft (good job!) and that there was just some reorganizing needed. Cool! I was in a similar frame of mind and this really was better news than I expected.
Until I opened her edited copy.
I scrolled through to the final feedback and had to read it twice. While what was being suggested was indeed a reorganization of the book, in order to do the reorg I would have to mostly rewrite the prose.
I started to feel nauseous. I KNEW I would need to do some rewriting and reorganizing but this wedged my brain. I literally couldn't see past the monolith in my mind. I had been so focused on getting my first draft written, getting my ideas down and building the manuscript that it never crossed my mind I would have to do it twice.
In "Bird by Bird" by Annie Lamott, Annie wrote about having to rewrite a book treatment for her publisher three times (she holed up in a hotel room and was doing lines of crank if I remember correctly). She busted her way through it too using will (and crank) to get her manuscript where it needs to be.
Cool. I know what to do--be like Annie (but no crank--not even on special occasions).
I've read "Bird by Bird" book many times and know this temporary state is just part of being in the middle of the process--the swamp where I'm elbows deep in my own mire of thoughts and doubt (no biggie).
I met with Ginger on the phone to discuss the new approach. She was still pretty optimistic about the concept so I steeled myself to go in again with a short writing assignment and move forward. I set a time to work on it and let myself have a couple days to kick chairs and complain.
I put my house in order, took a trip to Carmel with Keri and another friend, and visited with my Mom. I allowed myself the luxury of griping. But when my date to write came up, I put that all aside and got to work.
Even faced with the rewrite I knew had made enormous progress. Books usually need lots of rework--sometimes several goes at it. I'm in good company in this regard.
Truly, almost any project that can't be tossed off in an afternoon probably will need some rework. Building in a place for that in both emotional and physical space is important. Its a good argument also for not doing your homework on the bus.
I'm still moving toward my deadline. I have a clear picture of how to proceed which I'm far happier with than what I originally drafted. I have several writing assignments scoped out that will take me forward until draft number two is completed.
Are you in the thick of things? How are you doing? Drop a line in the comments below and let me hear from you.