Looking Away but Not Losing Sight

This blog has become a therapeutic outlet for my literary aches. Though perhaps not as comfortable as a therapist’s couch (but far less expensive) I have been able to ramble on about whatever writing woes that vex me, even in the slightest. Today’s will be no exception.

It’s funny how you can do something regularly, without issue, for a long time, and have that routine become so commonplace that you don’t even think about it. Then once you begin to tell others, or display it publicly in any way, so that it’s just out there for the world to see, what was once a customary part of your day can almost feel threatened. Other people are “in on it” and even though it is very much still all-you performing the same actions, whatever “it” was has grown apart from you, and is available for others to look at or comment.

Forgive my ambiguities, please. Part of the reason I’m in this literary therapy known as blogging is to express my ambiguous thoughts poetically, but also, hopefully, “readably”.  Forgive my constant digressions as well. I suppose I’m partially avoiding the topic at hand, which is that “thing” I was referencing, that was once wholly mine, but (insert some standard unit of measurement) by (same standard unit of measurement) at a time, it no longer belongs to just me, or anyone else, rather, it exists. It’s becoming it’s own.

I’m talking about my book. That was my long winded introduction to the reason behind this entry. As I had stated in entries prior, part of the reason I am writing this blog is to document stages of my publication journey. (Other reasons include: wanting to be famous, displaying my unchallenged and overly evident writing abilities, filling up the vast amounts of free time I have, and collecting all the money that just won’t stop rolling in from these entries.) Well, last week I wrote about my writer’s conference. After I had attended it, I was on a writer’s high for quite some time, ready to take on the world with my story.  But with Independence day (and perhaps the excess amount of food I ate. Who can I blame for that? Obviously, it isn’t my fault. Someone is trying to sabotage me. I’m like a modern day Hansel and Gretel) my focus waned, and my attention didn’t make an abrupt about-face, but rather slowly continued to tilt away from the task at hand.

Can you successfully “step away” from writing or editing a book? I mean, of course you can step away and leave, but can you do such and then return with vigor? This is what I wish to happen. I had read that this type of break is necessary to the creative process. The past 7ish months have been dedicated to my beloved tale, and though that can be a small or large amount of time, depending on who you ask or how you look at it, I’m at the stage in the process where I need to peel my eyes away.  In my own mind, the story is hilarious, tear-inducing and beautifully composed. It’s basically a Pulitzer candidate. I just need all that to translate to paper (or Kindle, when the time comes). But I’m not currently in the translation process.

My sights are still set for publication, and a continued life and career in writing. Make no mistake. The freshman novel is a precious one, that needs to be handled correctly. Could I cast my querying line off to a hundred agents right now and hope one of them bites? Sure. I could even self-publish. But that is not the correct way to go about this. My story needs to be solid and polished. I don’t want to scare off a potential suitor because I neglected to wear any makeup. (I’m rolling in with all the terrible, pedestrian quality analogies today! Also, I look decent without makeup, I think. Not great, but not awful, either.) Thus, the story needs to be completely edited and well written. It also needs that “je ne sais quoi” that makes it “pop” or “stand out” or whatever else you would use to say it needs the inexplicable pizzazz that makes it captivating. I think I’m close, but no bookish cigar.

I have been studying on the world of literary agents and feel much more comfortable about the whole process. So this in itself is progress, even if it parallels the actual editing progress I need prior. The idea of writing a letter (or query) to an agent and spilling my heart and soul and (limited) writing resume onto a single page was initially terrifying, but not as much, anymore. For that I am grateful, because I know that next step is going to be one of the most important in this whole endeavor. (But don’t you worry! I will certainly blog about that, too.)

*********************************

Before I can begin hawking my book, I need to shift my focus back to editing. I know the time away is good for both of us, but prolonged absence will not make either of our hearts grow fonder. Part of me wants to just go back to being “all in” and do nothing but edit, polish, sculpt, and make it as pretty as possible. It will take much work. When I overthink it, the work is rather daunting, considering I have already poured a lot of effort into it. It really does feel like a relationship, except totally one-sided (which I suppose isn’t all that different from many relationships out there). So that’s why I’m on this writing couch of therapy, to air out all my whines and complaints and problem for whoever will listen (even if it is just myself, listening to the keyboard clack away.) The publishing journey can certainly take you to some amazing places, but I have to be willing to make all the correct steps in the correct direction. So though I’ve already made a million plus edits, had a couple beta readers, made more edits, etc–I need to still edit and “keep on, keepin’ on”. Because I know it isn’t right, not yet. It’s getting there.

I once knew someone from my college tennis team that got engaged rather young (not unusual at a Christian university, but still. 20 feels a tad on the child side of being an adult). Though now my initial question to him about it escapes me, his answer doesn’t (partially because I remember mocking it a few dozen times afterwards). He said “when you know, you know.” While I never cognitively applied that to any human relationships, I believe it stands true with my editing journey. When it’s ready for that next step, I will know. I just have to stop complaining, and start doing something about it. As wonderful as this free therapy is, and seemingly helpful laying out my publishing plan is, it isn’t getting me any closer to where I need to be in this world. I can’t ignore it anymore, because (like any deadbeat life partner) it won’t fix itself. have to continue to put in the work. So, yes. I’m temporarily looking away, but not losing sight. I know what needs to be done—I just have to do it, so that way the agents can see the Pulitzer that’s welling within me, once I get around to editing it again.

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One thought on “Looking Away but Not Losing Sight

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  1. I finished a novel back in February, and out it away for five weeks before I looked at it. Then I read through it, and put it down again while I started rewriting the first fantasy I had written. In April, I hit a wall. Couldn’t edit or write. So I took the time. I took my Jeep Cherokee out to the lake and found new trails. I let my mind and muse have time off. And then, one day, I just knew, in May, that it was time to get back to work. They say writers must write every day. Maybe that’s true. But I’ve been at this storytelling thing long enough to trust myself. So if you need time to step away, do it. The batteries need time to recharge.

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