Tag: Editing

BlogFirstPassMy publication date for Where the Air Is Sweet is confirmed. May 2014. The pace of everything has picked up. In late August I received the copy-edited manuscript for approval. And now I have the typeset page proofs, the first pass pages. They came by UPS. I can hold them in my hands: my words.

The book is taking shape, taking form, manifesting. Finally, after all the work, after rewrites and rewrites, after years of gestating, the book is being born.

Writing is solitary. Creating happens in my mind; sometimes it is expanded, built upon in conversations with my editor, but ultimately it’s something I do alone. I have created this novel from a deeply personal place. It feels strange, then, preparing to share it (broadly, beyond people I know). It feels as though I am about to be transformed. In the way giving birth transformed me, added a new dimension, a new layer, to my being.

I’m not writing here about my fears: fears that people won’t like the book – I know some people won’t like it (not everyone loves everything); or that the book won’t sell well – it may not; this business, and it is a business, is fickle. No one can predict how a book will be received.

I’m writing here about how it feels to share what I’ve considered for so long “unshareable” because it was (I believed) true only for me and not something anyone else would care about. I am sharing the unshareable, going even further, allowing people to connect to it, relate to it, perhaps gain from it.

It’s extraordinary. This process of creating art. And the impulse to share it. I used to think it was ego. But it’s not. Not entirely. Ego is, I think, wanting validation when you don’t have it for yourself. When ego is at work the sensations and thoughts I experience are unpleasant, cloying. I feel powerless and desperate for approval, acceptance, almost at any cost. This impulse to share what I have created from the depths of myself feels entirely different. It feels generous. The easy kind of generous, like when you have so much you are not at all concerned about sharing because there is no question in your mind you will always have enough.

There is a joy in this giving, in this sharing. Nothing is lost.

With this novel, I feel as though life has given me a gift that will grow in ways I cannot even begin to imagine when I share it. And so my sharing is a responsibility, a privilege and a pleasure.

And on this weekend of Thanksgiving I can say, for this, I am grateful.

I have finished.

I just sent the latest draft of my novel, Where the Air is Sweet, to my editor.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve said “I’m finished” with respect to this book. Let’s see. Here’s a rundown of finishes of Where the Air is Sweet:

  • I finished the first rough draft in the spring of 2010.
  • I finished my first polished draft (which I could send to a prospective agent) a few months later in June 2010.
  • I made some changes at my agent’s behest, completing the draft in January 2011.
  • My first major structural edit was completed by August 2011.
  • In January 2012 I completed another draft that incorporated smaller fixes.
  • In January 2013 I finished the second structural edit.

Now, I had no fantasies that I wouldn’t work on the book after acquiring an agent and then a publisher. I knew that I had taken it as far as I could on my own but that it still had a ways to go before it was finished. I work as a newspaper editor in my other life and so I understand and have enormous respect for the editing process. That said, I don’t think I really understood the road I was embarking on when I decided I wanted to publish a novel.

I feel like a boxer who is being trained for years for a big fight. I feel that I keep getting better, the book does but I do too, more refined in my writing skills.

Anyways, I’m digressing from my theme of finishing. I think what I’m getting from this process is that we can get so caught up in finishing that we miss the experience. And if we aren’t present in the moment we cannot, at least I cannot, create.

Me, writing.

Me, writing. Pic surreptitiously snapped by my iPhone wielding 6-year-old.

When I embarked on writing my first novel I didn’t know if I would get anywhere, if I would even complete a novel, let alone publish one. I knew only that I wanted to write it, that I had reached a point at which if I didn’t write it, a kind of bitterness or frustration at all of my life would set in. And only when I accepted this fact — that the purpose of what I was doing was not a finished product but the honouring of an impulse, a desire — did I free myself to create.

And while I did complete a novel and sell it, I learned something that I believe was at least as, if not more, valuable: I love the act of writing a book, the process of creating it. I love writing.

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