I’ve been struggling with the first draft of Emmett’s book — the fine-tuning is driving me crazy. I’ve drafted 17 different versions of this first chapter since I started actually writing the book last year. Seventeen! ARGH. (Yes, I keep the drafts. Doesn’t everybody?)
Sometimes, it feels like the words just churn round and round — not falling into place fast enough to suit me — and that they never will.
Yesterday afternoon, amid the fine-tuning angst, I looked at a photo I have of Emmett in my office, and said out loud, “I feel like I’m getting nowhere. Help.”
My husband was passing by my office at that moment, and heard me talking to the photo. “Come on,” he said. “Let’s get some lunch. You need a break.”
So we went to Chipotle and sat in the window seats, admiring the beautiful, April day. The drinking cups at Chipotle have little essays on the back. Mine had one by Sue Monk Kidd, one of my favorite writers, and the essay was about (surprise) the frustrations of being a writer.
Kidd’s essay advised learning to love the questions, and not be in such a rush to find the answers. Further, Kidd’s essay said that learning to love the questions
“… meant investing quality time with the questions themselves—listening, tending, wondering, contemplating, gestating, waiting. Such lovely, old-fashioned things. Employing them, I came to discover the passionate, half-buried pull I felt to write, realizing that writing brought me alive, caused me to lose all sense of time, and made me reach for excellence—all of which translated into happiness.”
The writing process — although I gripe about it a lot — it is one of the best things in my life. I appreciate it, struggle and all.
Oh — about the old drafts — One day, after I get the book published, I’ll get rid of them. For now, I keep them to remind me how far I’ve come.