Monday, September 29, 2014

Procrastination and final edits

I love to write... Well, I'm not sure that that is entirely accurate. I think it would be more honest to say that I feel anxious and frustrated if I don't write. I am compelled to write, but I must admit that, almost on a daily basis, I put off writing through a variety of rituals. I check email, work on my blog, read the news, check on Twitter. I waste at least a half an hour in preparation for writing. But it seems premature to jump into writing. To feel ready to write, I need to go through these steps. Sometimes, I even try to trick myself to get more writing completed by getting up extra early to get these steps done.

This past Saturday, I got the edits of Calvin the Cookie Maker back from the editor. This book has to be completed and released by October 1st, as it is a Christmas story. I was thrilled to finally get the edits. I had campaigned to get them back in time for the book to be released this year. But it was almost physically painful to make myself sit down and work on the story one more time.

It's always surprising to read one's own work after stepping away from it for a while. The time and distance gives you perspective to evaluate the story. I think that's why I sometimes hesitate to get to work on edits. Or, maybe the truth is that final edits are simply polishing what is already there. There is not a lot of room for creativity. Final edits require real concentration and close reading. I tend to be more of a big picture person, so this work is challenging for me. Also, this final reading is what gives me closure on a story. I am about it set it free, for it develop a life of its own, for it to develop its own connection with its readers, one that will not include me, the author.

Hitting the "The End" is definitely a bitter sweet feeling. The story has grown up, achieved maturity. Now, though I know what led to this story, how ideas, memories, and experiences came together to generate it, it is no longer my project, my creature. In a way, it has gained a life of its own. Perhaps, this is fanciful, but it is a feeling that I have every time I finish a story.

Yes, now I can say, I truly like Calvin the Cookie Maker. He is my gift to my children and my husband, Andy. I do not bake, my Christmas decorations are far from tasteful and are definitely more of a holiday explosion. But Calvin captures some of my favorite family memories and emotions.