Writing

The Editing Cave

You know that lovely time that comes all too rarely when you are working SO WELL on your book that you just CAN’T stop? That happened to me yesterday. Well, technically, it started at about 12:30 AM yesterday morning, when I couldn’t sleep because I kept thinking about changes I wanted to make, and finally got up to handwrite an additional scene for my book. A scene that was desperately needed, though I didn’t know it until I had written it. I went to bed around 1:30 AM, satisfied and happy, though my brain still refused to turn off for I don’t know how long.

But after I finally did get some sleep, I had every intention of implementing that scene (at a more reasonable time in the morning) and then working on other things . . . like my website, catching up on the e-mails I have been ignoring all week, working on another story I am writing with friends, you know – all that. But I couldn’t. My characters called to me like sirens and I was lost. Readers, I worked on my book ALL DAY. And by all day, I mean from about 8:30 AM to 9:30 PM, with a break in between to work out and one attempt to stop at dinner only to have my husband send me off to work on it again because apparently my eyes kept glazing over. And by the end of it, my (supposedly finished) book had turned from 78,500 words to 85,200 words. I have to confess I am a little mentally exhausted today, but SO HAPPY. I can FEEL the difference. I am sure this has turned it from your average romance, to one of those romances that makes your soul ache a little.

I almost stopped right smack dab in the middle of it yesterday. And you know what made the difference? Something I read, yet again, in Love Letters to Writers. Now, let me tell you something; I am not the type of girl to write in or highlight books. I have tried, tried so hard, and it just feels like desecration to me. I couldn’t even highlight passages in my school books in college! But this sentence I read? I didn’t even hesitate, I’m almost horrified to say. I pulled out a highlighter, and I highlighted that sentence. Here it is:

“When I’m inclined to look away, I know–finally–that I’ve reached the moment when I need to dive in, not come up for air.”

In that moment, I knew something about myself that I had long suspected, but never been able to put into words. When I reach specific parts in some of my stories–not just this one, but many of them–especially deeper or more emotional parts, and I’ve been working steadily up until that point, something in my chest hitches, and I take a deep breath. . . and I get up. It’s like I don’t think I can handle whatever it is. I’m getting in too deep. So I take a breath, I go get water or coffee or whatever and take a break and come back to it, and usually, it’s never as good as I thought it would be. Well, I’ve finally named that hitch in my chest and it is an old, familiar foe. Fear. Yup, I know something good is about to come, and I have this crippling fear I can’t do it, so I get up instead of diving in, and thereby usually lose whatever I was about to do. Yesterday, I had that moment in the middle of the day. That moment when I could feel it. My fingers trembled, that hitch in my chest grew, and I almost threw myself out of my chair so I could walk to the window and look out, contemplating refilling the coffee I hadn’t even finished.

And then, that sentence floated through my head, and I forced myself to turn around, sit back down on my chair and type, no matter how painful it was. I forced myself to take that deep dive that I was so afraid of–and I hope you don’t think I’m bragging when I say that it was a beautiful thing. That part in my story may not be one of my best, but I think it is one of my most poignant and truth-revealing parts. It revealed a part of my main character even I didn’t know existed.

Thank you, Andi Cumbo-Floyd, for finally helping me face that fear.

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