My kitchen is never so clean as when I’m editing a novel during which time I am able to find so very many other things to do rather than buckle down and get the book edited. What things? Well, things such as making sure the dishes that have air-dried on the drainer are put away. Is there an urgency to this task? Why no, there’s not! And the counters cleared of all detritus. Take out the kitchen scraps bowl to the compost bin! And have I checked the orderliness of my spice cabinet recently? No, as a matter of fact, I have not! How about the tea? There are a lot of boxes of tea—surely those require immediate attention. Why do I focus my attention on the kitchen? Most likely because 85% of my life is lived out of the kitchen. I’m actually only allowed out of the kitchen to sleep and shower. Lucky for me there is a half-bath off the kitchen because I’m not clear on what my les toilettes privileges are. (Everything sounds less crass in French. I guess unless you’re in France. Unless you are in France and don’t speak French. Then everything sounds classy.) Anyhow, when I’m editing a book, I can’t seem to stay out of the kitchen even though I’m actually being allowed out of it. As I’ve mentioned before, I should write a book about procrastination methods, of which I am capable of devising a-many. Mostly when I’m supposed to be editing.
I’ve relayed the sordid story of the genesis of Talking Underwater. (It’s somewhat less sordid than the word “sordid” implies. But a good story. Or somewhat less good than “good” implies. It is what it is, people.) This book has been a particular challenge to edit because it’s been with me for so long. When you write novels, you sort of lose the ability to see your current manuscript clearly at some certain, yet tenuous, point and you then wake at 3:00 in the morning in a cold panic worrying about putting it out into the world. Is it ready? Is it good? Will people like it? Is such-and-such character believable/foolish/too much like [INSERT CLOSE FRIEND WHO MIGHT NEVER SPEAK TO YOU AGAIN IF SO]? Will it send you flowers on Mother’s Day or some crummy dollar store card? Or (gasp) NOTHING?!
When I relayed my angst to my sister, she summed it up perfectly:
I understand. You just have been with it for way too long. Let it go like a child that just might become a meth addict but more than likely will be fine ...
As a writer, you care so much about each word and the meaning you are attempting to put forth on the page. You spend such a great deal of time with the characters that they feel real—they are real—and you just want to be certain you express them exactly right. And the dedication to ensuring all this makes it difficult to push the novel out of the nest. Hence the 3:00 in the morning angst and the spice shuffling.
I keep it real on this blog, folks. Fears, insecurities, les toilettes privileges (even though I’m still not clear on those)—everything. But Talking Underwater is going to fly. One more round of edits to go! And I think this child of mine is going to do just fine. I can’t wait to share it with you!
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