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Letting Go

So, I’m at that awkward in-between stage when I’m done with a rewrite, but my brain isn’t.  It keeps ticking over the story I’ve written.  It keeps asking me questions and demanding I check scenes and strands, again, again.  It woke me up last night to nag me about a minor character.  My brain wants to be sure that I’m as done as my fingers think I am.  It’s annoying – and exhausting – but this is part of the writing process. This is part of how you let go.

I stack the last printed draft onto the precarious pile of earliers.  I dust my desk, wondering who could have strewn all these digestive crumbs here?  I put away the project’s reference books: Culpeper’s Herbal, The Grapes of Wrath, The Ways of my Grandmothers, my dog-eared Harper Study Bible, given to me back when I joined a church as a teenager.  It didn’t last long, but I still have the Bible and I love all the things I tucked into it back then, tiny epiphanies on offering envelopes and prayer slips, all that earnest highlighting.

I change playlists, retiring the soundtracks that I have played ad nauseum, the sounds of this particular book.  Characters have specific soundtracks per chunk of text.  It helps me recapture what it is I want them to feel; it helps me get back into the book when I step away to work on other things.  They are, perhaps, a form of self-hypnosis.  Do you do that?

Amity, the youngest character, is mostly Mark Isham’s soundtrack to Nell.  I don’t even know why I have this soundtrack, but I could hum the whole of it right now for you.  The main character has several soundtracks for past and present portions of the book.  To her, I have worn out two Rachel Portman soundtracks,  The Lake House and Never Let Me Go.  But recently, I had to put her through a scene that I was having trouble writing.  All her music was too gentle for that; another soundtrack to the rescue!  I turned to Javier Navarrete’s terrifying Pan’s Labyrinth.  Again, I have no idea why I bought this soundtrack, but I was grateful to turn to it.  When you Google writers and what they listen to, it is astonishing the variety of things we use to inspire us.  I found a writer who can only write to ABBA.  Really.

In putting these things away, I am telling my brain that I am in charge of it, that I know what “done” is.  I am telling my brain to trust me and the writing.  I guess I am telling my brain to let go, so that we both can move on…

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Setting your share

When you set your share, you change the depth of the cutter on the moldboard of your plough, to cut more deeply into the soil.  It is also an old title for my first novel, which I am rewriting.

I am still rewriting.  I am 10K from the end, but I am still rewriting.  How is it possible that I am still rewriting this novel?  You might well ask.  Last week I wrote past a big hinge in the book, one of those pacy climaxy scenes where much is revealed and resolved and the plot swivels round to run in a different direction, pellmell toward the end.  Well, that’s the plan, anyway.

So why, this morning, have I gone backward into two short scenes before these big climaxy scenes that I’m happy with?  In looking at them, I realized I needed to set my share lower.  I needed to dig deeper.  I had set some situations up and then, somehow, let my character off the hook.  No pleasure can come from that.  This forever going backward does nothing for my word count, but it does mean that I am digging as deeply as I can into this story and these characters.  I am ripping into the situations I have set up and laying them open, as bare as I can.  I am preparing the soil, I suppose, for the end of the book, of what I hope will grow for the characters, for their lives when I stop writing.

Or is this all just a tactic to delay my finishing?  Am I so in love with these characters and their strange world that I cannot – gulp – let go of them?  I have heard it said that you are not finished with a book until you are sick to death at the sight and thought of it.  I cannot imagine feeling that, ever, so that must mean I’m nowhere near done.  Still, I’m on track to finish my rewrite in 2 weeks time and hand it back to a couple of lovely readers.  Check back and see if I’m on track, won’t you?

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