Wednesday, January 15, 2014


by Elizabeth

How is it that after the holidays, when you are ready and raring to get back to a normal schedule, it always takes longer than you thought? Sure, Christmas came and went, but then family came in from out of town, and then New Year's hit, and then you'd think it would be back to normal, but the kids were still out of school and gnawing at the furniture with boredom. Finally they trudged like schoolboys reluctantly to school, and my days were again my own! I managed spend several in a row working on my manuscript, which was great, and then I came to a good stopping spot, and between dreading the next step and my non-writing life once again pouting for attention, another breather ensued.

But things are once again "back to normal" and I have no excuse, so the knitting must begin.

This is the work I've alternately anticipated and feared since our retreat in early December. That weekend I went through the hard copy of my entire manuscript, writing notes in pink ink, pasting on further notes with yellow post-its, and in the lull between Christmas and New Year's, I incorporated much of that into my computer draft. What I didn't bother with was the reordering, moving this chapter further forward or back, and also finding the proper home for many chapters that were just tacked onto the end of the manuscript during composition.

I guess this is one of the perils of learning to compose on a keyboard. With my two earlier completed manuscripts, virtually every word was first written by hand in a spiral notebook, and the ordering of the chapters took place as I transcribed. This time, a good half or more was written right where I sit right now, and I just added new words to the bottom even if I wasn't certain where they belonged. Today, I finally begin to pay the piper and, as I've explained to my husband, my mother, my kids, random strangers in the return line at Target, I don't know if this will take me eight hours or eighty or eight hundred. Initially, even as I joked I believed it would likely be somewhere between the first two options. After settling in for the first couple of chapters already this morning, I begin to fear it will be somewhere between the second and third.

No matter. This knitting, at the end of which I will have a solid third draft, and hopefully penultimate to the draft I send to the first set of Beta readers, has to be done. If I must spend the next month tackling it, then that's what I will do. I've suffered disquietude over this, but now that I've begun, I realize it's just another form of editing, and editing is in fact one of my favorite parts of this process, the part I truly enjoy the most.

Which is really lucky, isn't it? Because as hard as it is, putting the words down on the paper the first time is, for me, the easiest and shortest part of the job. It's the refining, the polishing, the knitting and the unraveling to find the best possible final product that takes the sweat and the tears.

Look for me for the next while in the land of the wet. 'Cuz that's where I'm going to be, and I couldn't be happier about it.

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