The Book You Love Enough

Things have been quiet here on the blog, and that’s because things in my writing life have been quiet. And by quiet, I mean… non-existent. The last few months have been exceptionally difficult for me for lots of personal reasons, and writing just fell away. It always does.

But it also always comes back. Or I come back to it. A few days ago I was gripped suddenly by the urge to write. To get back into my book and finish my revision. It happened completely out of nowhere. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with my life/career/etc, and to be completely honest… I think part of me is entirely resigned to never being a published author. It doesn’t happen for everyone, and I question if I have what it takes. Can I work hard enough for long enough? Can I stay focused? Can I balance writing and everything else?

To this point, the answers to those questions are no. And yet every time I try to walk away from writing forever, just put down my pen and quit… I can’t. And maybe writing will only ever be something I do for the love of it. Maybe I will never get to share my stories. I hope that isn’t true, but I’m becoming increasingly OK with the possibility.

I think part of this development has to do with the manuscript I’m working on currently. Usually, if I’m off the writing wagon for too long, the way I jump back in is to start something new. Starting new projects is easy for me. I’m always having ideas, and first drafts are the best playground. New projects are so fun and exciting. They could go anywhere! And most importantly, it doesn’t matter if they end up as giant messes.

I have never felt compelled strongly to return to a project in order to revise it. This MS is done. It’s been done for a long time. And by “done” I mean “complete.” The story is told, but it still needs a lot of work.

I have a love/hate relationship with revising, as I think most writers do. I find it tedious. I find it frustrating. I can’t just let sloppy parts stick around anymore, like I can in first draft mode. But I also find revising comforting, in a way. I know what needs to be fixed… now I just have to fix it. Instead of finding/creating all the pieces to the puzzle, like in a first draft, now it’s a matter of having all the pieces and just fitting them together in the right way.

This ramble is all to say that I think this book might really be The One. The One all writers talk about. The One to get me an agent, to get me published, to get people reading my work. Most published authors I know who talk about getting published always talk about just having the stamina, the stubbornness, the love to keep going. To face rejection. To achieve your goals.

You have to love writing. You have to want it. But you also have to just flat-out love whatever project you’re working on. Whatever project you’re championing. Whatever project you’re hoping snags you an agent and a book deal and readers. Because you and that book are in it for the long haul. The One.

In that way, I think this could be The One. But more importantly, to me, I think this book is The One that is teaching me that writing is here to stay. For lots of reasons, I’ve had a tortuous relationship with writing. I keep leaving and coming back, leaving and coming back. And as I’ve evolved as a writer, my ideas about writing and writing as a profession have changed. Writing means different things to different people, and for the longest time I think I was trying to fit what it meant to other people into my own life. But writing means its own thing for me, and I’m glad I’ve been able to grow and see that.

I do hope this book is The One. The One to get me where I want to be professionally.

But I know at the very least that this is the book I love enough. The One I love enough to come back to over and over. The One I love enough to not skip the work it needs. The One I love enough to stick with even when new projects are calling.

So I’m committed to revising this book. I’m setting a really strict and potentially unreachable goal: I’m hoping/planning to revise all 94,017 words of it during Camp NaNoWriMo. (Confession: I’ve already started, in order to make that goal a little more realistic.) I don’t know if it’ll happen, but I hope it will be enough of a jump start. If I’m not finished by the end of April, I hope to have enough momentum to keep going until I am finished.

Because this is the book I love enough.

~Teresa

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