My (Other) First Born

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In addition to several other projects I’m simultaneously working on at the moment, I’ve also been overhauling my first novel… again.

Let’s just say the third time wasn’t so charming but it’s getting there.

It’s a work in progress and while the progress keeps progressing, it also somehow keeps starting over at page one. I’m getting dizzy.

Still, I tell myself that every edit, revision, chopped sentence and tossed page brings me and my manuscript(s) closer to the ultimate goal but the process is challenging. I’m learning and growing so much and I know that that’s evident in my writing. It’s also evident that I’ve been working my ass off.

In the past month alone, I’ve cut over 30,000 words in this particular novel. Gone but not forgotten but buh-bye. I’ve replaced those words with 30,000 different words (there may have been a few repeats). Compared to the first draft (the one I finished writing, or thought I’d finished writing, four years ago), it’s a totally different story. My other novels have been changing, too, as have I.

I’ve killed characters, created new ones, changed the plot, the themes, the pace and the point. The term chop-chop means something entirely different to me these days. A close friend of mine who is also a writer recently asked me if all the chopping hurts. “Isn’t it painful?” she said. Nope, not any more. If it’s not right, then it’s not right. Every change brings me  another step closer. If I truly believe that, then time spent wallowing over chopped words is wasted time.

I’m so close… I can taste it.

And, yet, I’m only about halfway there… give or take a few thousand words.

At times, it has seemed like I’m in a foreign country, climbing a huge mountain without a guide. Will I ever get to appreciate the view from the top? I hope so but I won’t know for sure until I get there… if/when I get there. But one thing that I know for sure is that I can’t stop now. This is what I’m supposed to be doing. I can feel it in every aspect of my being. This is my mountain to climb.

While I’ve never considered giving up, I’d be lying if I said there haven’t been moments when I’ve found myself procrastinating and making excuses to do anything else…

I’m a full time mom and writer. Believe me; I have plenty of other things to do and other projects to work on. But everything else leads me back.

I eat, sleep, breathe my writing and this one project in particular owns me… for now. It’s an all-consuming, mind altering, life changing, soul destroying beast that I love with all my heart. I have other manuscripts, both completed and in progress, but this one was/is my first. You know how that goes.

Sometimes I wonder if this is what drug addicts feel like.

People often compare writing a novel to giving birth. Having done both, I can certainly feel the correlation. So, going with the same analogy, the process of overhauling a novel must be like raising that child… over and over again…

Like I said, this is my fourth overhaul of my first manuscript. This time around has been the hardest but also the most rewarding.

Even though I’m in the heart of it now, I’m certain it’s my best writing thus far. The beginning and the end changed organically. All of it just flowed out of me, no epidural needed. But now I’m writing the middle and the middle has been like a toddler having a never-ending tantrum in a supermarket… the spine chilling, stomach curdling kind that tends to get passively blamed on the terrible twos when the culprit is far more likely three sixes and a pound of sugar.

I’m trying to juggle ideas and character nuances while keeping the story and timeline straight. I’m fighting the confusion, even though I’m easily on my fourth (or is it my fifth?) beginning and ending and the middle, well, this must be at least my tenth middle my now.

The word count goes up and down while my manuscript continues to transform and my brain vomits sentences into a pile of paragraphs which somehow manifest themselves into consecutive pages.

There are times when this feels like it’s taking forever and other times when I lament that my (other) first born is growing so fast. Where has the time gone?

I promise to hang in there and keep giving it my all but God help me if this one takes 18 years to move out of the house.

Check that. God help my husband.

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