|The author's writing journal, dated February 28, 2022.|
Today I turned in a major revision of my book manuscript to my publisher. (pauses for riotous applause)
My first thought when I hit send on the email was, Can I take a nap now? Logistically, I just spent six weeks squeezing in editing time amid holding down a fulltime job, maintaining a household, surviving pandemic-meets-winter cabin fever, tending to a smiley, hungry infant, and parenting a toddler who refuses to poop anywhere but his underpants. Emotionally, I spent six weeks reading and re-reading words I poured on the page in fits of angst, rage, and celebration over the years, living and re-living the arc of a pivotal decade of my life, batting away the imposter syndrome that kept creeping around the base of my desk chair.
Between the two poles, omitting needless words was easier. (I'm looking at you, so and and and giggle.) I did not anticipate how revising such a personal work would simultaneously deplete and energize me, nor did I expect to walk away with greater excitement than when I began. In a strange, unpredictable, but wholly welcome way, the effort has exceeded the sum of its parts.
In preparing for this month's post, I jotted down half-formed ideas like updating a Black History Month reading list or returning/not returning to church or contemplating the human tendency to forget, but in the end I turned to Oxford English Dictionary, the reliable crutch of a wrung-out writer, which revealed to me an obsolete use of the word "revise": to look back or meditate on or upon something.
Meditation captures it well, I think. By readthrough #4 this month (which, mind you, came after three years of developing a manuscript and nearly 15 of writing about spirituality), my most-loved words and laziest shortcuts became quiet koans beneath the red ink, inviting me to consider more carefully what I wanted to say and why. Finding flow within these thoughts was its own form of prayer—perfect for a book about praying through questions.
Also, determined never to start a sentence with the word "so" again, which means I have to find a new rhetorical flourish to overuse.
But first, a nap.
Prayer #375: Versioning
The person who wrote my first draft is not the person who wrote my second draft is not the person who wrote my third draft is not the person who bangs at the keyboard today, tracing a narrative within the reams, through the years, across the lives lived, in order to reveal to herself what her words have revealed about You.
May You cherish all the versions she produces, of her art and of her self.