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…