Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Step Back

My story is finished. Or perhaps I should say, "finished." I've edited, proofread, added, changed, and edited again. But I know I'm not really done. My book isn't ready for querying yet. It's close, but it's not as shiny and perfect as it could be. Even though I can hardly wait for it to be shiny and perfect, I'm forcing myself to take a step back and let it all sit for awhile.

In the meantime, I'm devouring all the books I found myself starting but unable to focus on when my fingers were itching to finish telling my story. Finding a balance between time spent reading and time spent writing has always been really hard for me to do.

I love to read. From my days of reading in bed by flashlight, hidden under the covers until my eyes burned from lack of sleep, it has always been hard for me to balance a good book with all of life's other demands. (Confession: those days of reading in bed till my eyes burn may not be completely in my past. It's a good thing my husband is a heavy sleeper).

But I also love to write. I often find myself, with ideas swirling madly in my head, frantically pulling out the notepad on my phone to jot down whatever story thread has just come to me. Since my time to write is limited, I often can't bear to spend those precious hours simply reading when I could be creating instead.

So my little step back from my WIP has been great. My story is all on the page and, with all my loose ends finally tied up, I feel free. I've read several books in the few weeks since I finished my last edit. Two of my favorites are The Originals, by Cat Patrick and A Grown Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson. And an old favorite: The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis.

As feedback trickles in from my beta readers, I can feel the itch to write starting up again. My fingers ache for a keyboard as new ideas surge through me at random times throughout the day. But I'm determined to complete my step back, for a number of reasons. First of all, it's Christmastime, my absolute favorite time of the year. (If you could take away the snow and the freezing temps, it would be even better!) My kids will be home from school for two weeks and I know I won't be able to fully enjoy my time with them if I'm focusing on the nitty-gritty details of improving my story. Also, I still have several more books I want to read before I dive back into my own. And lastly, in order to appreciate the full impact of my step back, I know if needs to be longer than a week or two. I need to reset my perspective so my eyes are clear when it comes time to pull my story apart and put it painfully back together again.

So here is my pledge: I will not start editing until my kids go back to school in January. If I break this pledge, may my fingers fall off one by one until I'm forced to type with the tiny stubs that remain.

Okay, perhaps that is a bit extreme. How about I just promise not to break my pledge, and we can forgo the scary consequences? Yes? Fantastic!