Editing Life's Chapters
Above Photo: "Having my morning coffee in my apartment with Snoopy"
As I am writing this, there is a faint, yet ever-growing smell of "burning" wafting through the air. These brisk Autumn mornings in New York City have resulted in the annual switching on of the radiators. The smell would normally have me in more of a panic, had I not experienced the same result last year around this same time. It's a moment where we acknowledge a year of dusty memories burning off of the hot coils.
I've been back in the States for a little over a week now, after my journey in South America, and I've begun the challenging task of editing the manuscript of my novel. A novel that I've worked on for a few years now, that I've already had with readers- who have given feedback- from which I edited. It has also been with an accredited New York editor- who gave an expansive list of notes on the piece. I love my book- don't get me wrong- but editing is that mundane task that really reminds you that writing is still a job.
I've become familiar with my story. I know my characters. I know the plot. I picture the scenery. However, given a fresh eye from someone else, there are things lacking. Things that should be tweaked, expanded, cut, or even rewritten. Can I just say, It's very difficult to change something familiar and comfortable- to have to work on something that has already become so concrete in your mind. Especially when it is something that you're ready to be finished with and just release to the world after years of work.
Change can be difficult. Especially when it's unwanted or uncomfortable. Sometimes, with all that is in us, we want to fight it. We find excuses to delay it, or look for ways around it. Or we become stubborn- and we don't want to change- even if the result of change could be better, or more beneficial. It's sometimes, maybe even most of the time, easier to just NOT do it. However, if we don't-- will we ever stop wondering "what if?"
I find that this analogy can so easily relate to life. That sometimes, given the time or moment- we make a decision (or write a paragraph). We think it's GREAT, and it sounds amazing! However, as we continue to write the story- and we get to know the characters more- we realize that the scenes we thought were great could actually become better. We realize that the character we wrote about harbors so much more potential. We get to the end, years later- and we realize that we're in a different place. Our minds have grown, the world around us has shifted... and what seemed great at the time, may not be so great anymore.
Change is difficult- but I think being able to reevaluate ourselves, and our thoughts- is a part of growing. It's a part of becoming a better story. And although something may have worked before-- given time, it may not work anymore. At that point, we have the decision to make. We can allow ourselves to live in a place of complacency, of lack, of good... or we can move into an area of greatness. It takes work, for sure-- and you may find yourself fighting it because of old habits or thoughts-- but being proactive in bettering the world (fiction or not) is worth the struggle and fight. It's worth the headaches from writer's block, it's worth the multiple trips to the coffee pot, and it's worth the moments of bliss when you realize your full potential.