It’s a novel. 79,247 words. That’s a lot of words. It was due today. I submitted it at midnight last night.
I’ve tried to explain to my son that a good writer spends as much time revising as he or she does creating. He’d prefer that his first thoughts be perfect, and he could leave it at that. I’d prefer that chocolate and wine be calorie free and that I had a closet full of Stuart Weitzman shoes, but neither is going to happen anytime soon.
Sometimes when I reread my writing I think, dang, that’s pretty good. More often, I wonder what I was thinking, and I start worrying that I plagiarized the good stuff from someone else. I’ve gotten to the point where I save text that I’ve edited out, because half of the time I decide I need to put it back in again, and if I don’t I can recycle it in some other piece. I’m very green that way.
The very hardest part of revising, however, is keeping my environment free of extraneous words. In simpler terms–don’t talk to me while I’m revising. It’s like having someone shout out random numbers while you’re trying to count to one hundred. The tapping of my computer keys is a siren call to my son. It sings to him, “your mother wants to hear about your fantasy football choices for the upcoming weekend. You must inform her in detail. Use statistics if possible.”
I snapped at him last night. It was 9:30. He needed to go to bed. I still had two hours of proofreading and formatting to do. “I’m editing. I’m on a deadline. You have to leave now.”
I was waiting to hear, “I thought you liked to talk to me.” I could see him in therapy twenty years from now. “I wanted meaningful communication with my mother, and all she wanted to do was edit. Her words are more important than my own.” I’m sure he’ll make me pay for his sessions.
What he actually said was “I need my dress pants and shirt ironed for my presentation tomorrow.” They were clean. He’d washed them 3 weeks ago. They’ve been in a pile on his floor ever since. “They say wrinkle-free. What liars.” I decide not to argue the point. It’s faster to iron, and cheaper than therapy. Leaves me more money to buy shoes.
My short story, Cat’s Eye, appears in December’s Literary Mama. Drop by and check it out.
Words by J. B. Everett