Old Moon

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

A couple of notions at the forefront today: I've begun to work with an editor on the third novel. That fact fits with the second thought, which is that it's astonishing when life suddenly stops moving gradually in one direction and begins jumping backward. Most setbacks are like obstacles you climb over, then proceed. I'm finding myself now as a writer as well as an ordinary person trying to get back to steady progress.

I've bitten the bullet and started to try (again!) to get the third book into some kind of shape that might make some agent willing to take me on. It's a truly fascinating process that I used to think I could have done for me for nothing if I could find a publisher. The publisher I found hasn't the resources (or, I imagine even the desire to bother with this).

I remember what it was like to try to teach high school students -- to make improvements without discouraging the efforts. My editor does this very well indeed. With no experience in such matters, I had to ask if I should be returning rewritten material for further comment, whether I should be countering comments of his with defense of my original handling, et al. His response was one I ought to have been able to anticipate, and proved to me immediately that my money will be well spent. He said all decisions must be mine after weighing his (professional) opinions; he added that part of what I might learn would be to defend my work to myself. "Of course," I can hear you experienced and multi-published writers saying. Well, the thought was new to me, and more than welcome. Back to square one in writing courses: write for yourself. Makes me look forward to every e-mail.

That experience, ongoing as it is, links in with the discovery that what I'm tired of hearing termed "the grieving process" isn't one of even fairly smooth progress. I may not like the term, but it appears to be accurate. After perhaps two days of having a sense of beginning to get out from under the blanket of sadness, I have a day of near despair. It's as if I have to start again from the third or fourth day after the loss, when the shock was fading. It's a bit frightening. I think of the tears that won't be pushed back and the rewrites of my story, and honestly wonder if I have sufficient emotional muscle to prevail. Oh, I'll plough along with the novel, try to keep something coming for this blog, produce the reviews and essays for Senior Women, but I wish the hills didn't obscure the horizon.

4 comments:

Pat Workman said...

I do so admire and enjoy your writing and your spirited perseverance. When I read a good book or poem or just a clever turn of phrase, I am transformed. I long from my toes to be able to write like that. What an art, what a gift to the reader and the writer.
Keep plugging by all means.

Rose Lamatt said...

I'm glad Joan your doing it again. You are such a wonderful writer, and put words in a line so beautifully. Looking forward to another great read.

Rose Lamatt said...

I'm glad Joan your doing it again. You are such a wonderful writer, and put words in a line so beautifully. Looking forward to another great read.

Glenda C. Beall said...

Thanks for sharing this experience working with an editor and what the author should expect. That is good information.
As for the constant starting this process over and over, I do so relate. One night while on my retreat, I poured out my sorrow and defeated feeling in a long letter to my sister, but fell asleep before completing it. The next day I was on my way to setting goals again and excited over a prospective new venture.
It is not a smooth journey, this process we must go through.
However, I think we should be honest about it.
One lady I met recently seems to have finished this grief business in a few weeks. She smiles and answers all comments with "but we had such a wonderful life together" and goes on to talk about herself.

I am afraid when she gets back home, alone after all these years, it will hit her hard and she will not be as cheerful as she was.
But she certainly "put on a good face."