Saturday, April 2, 2011

Edit Land: Chasing Wildly After Beauty

I've been deep in edits the last week and a half, and--full disclosure--I've been a little bit in Crazy Land too. You all know what I mean by Crazy Land, right? Full of neurosis, stultifying fears, freezing paralysis?

Yeah. I spent a few days there last week. I've edited novels before. I edited the last two Shelved Books, went deep into Edit Land, just like I did this time....but this time was different. I mean, a Real Book is going to come of this. Real Book. On shelves. In stranger's hands, packaged and pretty and out in the universe. So maybe that's why this feels very different, or maybe it's because I've been stretching myself too thin lately. Grad School + Mom-dom + Writing. I've only ever been able to manage two of these at once, but this week, I've been attempting all three, and I found out very quickly that all three things put together = FAIL. Not quite Epic Fail, but certainly paralysis-on-all-endeavors kind of fail. Who knew? Actually, I knew at the start of the semester, but I didn't quite want to admit it.

Things that fixed Heather's Neurotic Semi-Breakdown: 1) handsome husband taking me out for ice cream. 2) Dropping a class I should never have signed up for in the first place. 3) Reading Natalie Goldberg to remember why I'm writing, what this business is all about at it's base.

Amazing Quote about writing from Goldberg: "We are not running wildly after beauty with fear at our backs."

Did you hear that? Because you should read it two or ten more times until that sinks in. We're all writing because we are running wildly after beauty. That's what character development is about--that's exactly the journey my main character is going through, and learning not to let fear drive her is the triumph of the story. And it's the triumph of my own story too, the part where life imitates art. At the base, I write because beauty moves me. That's what I'm trying to get across in all these pages. It's why I started to write and why I continue--because there is something so fucking startling, beautiful, and light-making about life.

Love and joy and all the bright things that create meaning. It's a tragedy if I forget that because of inane responsibilities, due dates, papers and other mundane-ness requiring my attention. The past few days have been dedicated again to that wild chase after beauty. Fear as a driving force is abandoned and exchanged for joy. What the hell else are we on this planet for?


  1. Beautiful Heather! Thanks for sharing your thoughts! After reading about your writing journey for a while now I am DYING to read Glitch!

  2. Thanks Keary! It's a crazy ride, glad to be able to share the neurosis w/ internet peeps who can relate!

  3. I've never read Natalie Goldberg, but I'm thinking I should. That's a great quote, and a good reminder.

    And YAY for awesome husbands. :P

  4. Thanks, Jenn! Oh my gosh, I heard writers talking about Goldberg's "Writing Down the Bones" for a long time before I picked it up, but it is the most inspiring writing guide and well, life guide (and this is from someone who AVOIDS CHEESEBALL GUIDES LIKE THE PLAGUE). I read a little everyday before I start writing and it's such a boost, such a reminder of the important things. And I agree, double yay for awesome husbands :)