Sometimes when I’m writing or revising a scene, a voice suddenly screams in my head, saying this:
I tell you what, there is nothing like writing a scene and realizing it works. It’s exhilarating, like adrenaline and pleasure and self-satisfaction running through me all at once. It doesn’t happen all the time, and it doesn’t mean the writing is as wonderful as I think, but deep in my gut, I feel ecstatic. Do you ever write a line that feels so good, you drool on your keyboard?
I felt that way today for the first time in months (the first time since I decided to rewrite Sacred Fire one more time). Revising often feels like taking a perfect painting, tearing it into pieces, and using the fragments to make a collage. I’ve spent the last three months “tearing” my book apart: shifting things around, taking things out, rewriting, hitting my head against my desk, that sort of thing. It felt like an awful mess until today I took a step back and saw a picture forming. Shapes are almost recognizable again.
I scrolled through a few chapters, peering at my computer screen, and thought, “This is actually working. Holy cow.” I want to print my book out just so I can give it a hug.
It’s times like these when silly things like sleep and eating just don’t seem all that important. All I want to do is finish this thing.
I’ll be honest, when I first decided to rewrite my book again, I was pretty skeptical. The only reason I decided to do it was because my writing mentor spent six hours swapping emails with me, insisting I could make it better while I argued that it was as good as it was going to get. At the end of the day, I wrote to her, “Fine! I’ll rewrite it.” She wrote back, “Yay!”
I spent a good week or two moping and fantasizing about how different my book would have been if I had it to do all over again. Then I spent a good month or two making lists of things that needed to change and ideas that might fix the problems. (When I got to 20,000 words of notes, I realized I was procrastinating. A lot.) I still remember the day I opened my latest version of the book – it was a polished, meticulously edited document titled “to send to agents” – and made my first change.
Here we go, I thought.
I still have a ton of work to do – months and months of it – but it's working. It's actually working!