I’ve spent January working on a big project for The Day Job, watching the playoffs, rejoicing that the third season of Shameless is underway, learning to cook a few new things, visiting the library, discovering “The Following” and “Continuum,” writing and reading blogs, hanging out at the pub, and playing The Sims 3.
After concluding my book in December, I walked away and left it simmering on the backburner.
This is sounding like another case of “here she goes. Blocked and overworked and bitchin’ about it again.” Nope. Hold the phones. This time, the hiatus has been completely intentional.
I’ve spent the last year of my life hanging out with a dead guy who likes to run around naked. You can understand how I might need to step away and clear my head. But the truth is, I’d have taken this hiatus whether my book featured a streaking ghost or algebra equations (Yikes …who am I kidding? If it had been about algebra equations I’d be hiding under my bed swigging from a bottle of vodka.).
After “The Writing” comes the editing and rewriting. Let’s face it. If we compare writing a book to a journey, the “building the story” part is driving on a stretch of open, undiscovered and often beautiful highway. The “editing and rewriting” part is chugging along in rush-hour traffic. Knowing this, I figured I needed a little time to recover from the burnout I inflicted on myself in 2012.
Me, my naked dead guy and the rest of my novel will reunite for part 2 of our journey the first full week in February.
I do feel rested, clear-headed and ready to go. Taking a “book break” has done wonders for me. I am energized again. I loved writing my book. But when I was finished, my brain was fried. If I’d been asked to take a picture that represented by mental state, I would have found a barren tree under a cold gray sky. My mind was stripped bare not by the book, but by fitting writing it into the rest of my life.
If asked to take a picture of where I’m at today, it would look like this:
The tree itself represents the strong and solid roots I have put into the story so far. The brilliant fall leaves and the clear blue sky represent a sharper eye, a clearer head and the fresh perspective that come with time away.
Furthermore, I discovered that I MISSED my characters while we were apart. They’ve taken up a lot of real estate in my brain over the last year-plus. As happens in real life, a temporary separation showed me just how much they mean to me. When we spend every day with someone we love, we take them for granted. Or even worse, they start to irk us a little. Absence does make the heart grow fonder.
Finally, I am ready to be honest about my brainchild. As I was writing, I had many “damn, I’m good” moments. I laughed out loud over some scenes and cried over others.
Yes, I think my story is “that damn good.” But I also know I’m biased, as a mother may be about her child. Little Johnny is a great athlete, a straight-A student, and respectful to his elders. So when the teacher calls to say he’s being disruptive in class, Mom’s first reaction is “oh, hell no. Not MY boy.”
Like Little Johnny, my book has flaws to be recognized and fixed. Instead of being the book-momma who overlooks bad writing behavior, I want to correct those flaws. With fresh perspective in editing, my good book can be great.
What about you? When you finish the first draft of a manuscript, do you remove yourself from it for a bit or dive right in to the editing process? Do you work on other writing projects while editing, or do you focus in like a laser until the project at hand is done? As I embark on the editing process, I’m eager to hear about your experiences!