Before I update you all on Phase Two of Project: Edit, perhaps I should begin with a little story.
I’m the sort of girl who offers to make her sister’s 250 wedding invitations. The sort of girl who, when the choices of print shop suddenly become print-shop-with-wonky-discoloration versus print-shop-with-insanely-ridiculous-prices, decides to go with neither print shop and opt instead for make-each-invite-and-response-card-with-her-own-two-loving-tender-hands. I’m that sort of girl.
Fortunately, my sweet husband is the sort of husband who says, “Look here! I can turn the espresso-and-white maps into black-and-white maps, and squeeze eight onto a page. This will cut costs and eliminate the issues with discoloration — then, we can do all the color copies at print-shop-with-insanely-ridiculous-prices! Then you’ll only have to make the RSVP cards by hand, and the original price you quoted will stay about the same!”
So — all that to say, I (sometimes) bite off more than is comfortable to chew. Not that I can’t chew it. It’s just uncomfortable. (See also: my withered hand when I finished the RSVP cards. If I had done everything by hand, in one weekend, as was my original insane solution, I’d probably still be in pain. And that was last June.)
This week has been annoying and discouraging and overwhelming. Note to self, and to everyone who’s up to speed on what I’m working on these days¹: when taking handwritten notes in a spiral notebook, if the plan is to enter them into the computer in an organized fashion, do it in small chunks at the end of each daily session instead of all at once. The notes themselves aren’t all that intimidating; the system in which I’ve organized them isn’t the problem, either. The problem is that it’s tedious. Worth it? Almost certainly. Fun? Certainly not.
I’ve also felt the tendency to compare myself to others this week, in a way that’s not necessarily healthy. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of reading² and while that’s inspiring and all, it’s also a wee bit discouraging. It’s so easy to pick up a book and forget that it didn’t just magically appear, in polished-and-published form: no. These things took work. Just like mine is taking work. I keep forgetting that this is my first time to edit a novel and that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with learning how to do it.
Perhaps now is a good time to mention that thanks to the Olympics, I am in awe of snowboarders. I spent an entire afternoon watching the girls’ halfpipe competition, marveling at Torah Bright, at Gretchen Bleiler, at Hannah Teter, at how easy they make it look. Also? I marveled at how insanely painful it must be to mess up, to fall and crash and break.
I’ve been airing my snowboarding awe to my husband all week. On Saturday night, when all my little frustrations about editing surfaced along with my ridiculous snowboarding dreams, he just listened patiently and reminded me of some truth: those snowboarders didn’t just hop on a board, jump into a halfpipe, and proceed to nail their switch backside 720’s³.
No. They practiced. A lot. Like, a lot a lot a lot. And, even gold medalists and their toughest competitors fall at the Olympics, because they’re giving everything they have. They don’t play it safe, they take risks that may or may not pay off.
You see where I’m going, yes? Huge goals require huge risks, lots of practice, lots of patience, and the understanding that sometimes, you just might crash in the snow while you’re trying something amazing. Oh yeah, and to remember that everyone has to start somewhere and learn along the way.
I’m learning. This novel is a huge project, overwhelming sometimes, uncomfortable sometimes, but not impossible. Not impossible at all.
Revision Update, Phase Two | All notes have been entered into pretty little spreadsheets. Still have more work as far as prioritizing them goes, but on the whole, it’s coming along.
²FINALLY finished The Time Traveler’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger) and Bright Lights, Big Ass (Jen Lancaster). Had to read them concurrently so as not to fall into total, time-travel-tragedy-induced despair.
³I looked this up. According to this NYTimes article, this is the cherry-on-top move from Torah Bright’s gold-medal-winning run; it’s “a perplexing double rotation with a blind landing that flummoxes all her competitors.” (I’m loving the abundance of the letter x in that sentence, BTW.)