We all hate that moment in high school when the essay that we worked so hard on comes back to us with red marks all over the page, and a big note that says, “revise” written where there’s no mistaking it. Well, my book came back the other day from the first round of editing. No, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, I figured i might have to start from scratch. However, I sat down and re-read the manuscript, with the changes that my editor had put in. I will say that, overall, it’s a cleaner copy. I also know, though, that there is a good amount of virtual red ink over the pages and it does need a fair bit of TLC. But I see the faint light at the end of the tunnel. The first draft itself is the hardest to write. Just to get those words out on the page, or the screen, is the hardest. Once you have some form, then you can shape it like a sculptor would.
What struck me the most was reading my own story back to myself, with a very fast speech synthesizer. I turned off all the track changes and comments, just as if I were reading the book for the first time. It was like another person was telling the story. It was a blessing and a curse that I knew the ending. What I found was that I had to just plow through it like it was someone else’s life. Because it is still in rough form, I will say that the end does need some serious working over; they don’t call it a rough draft for nothing.
Part of me read through the end of my own story with detachment, part of me read with interest at what had been changed. Overall, the whole story flows better, naturally, but when I got done, all I could do was take several deep, calming, rattling breaths. The story must be told, with dignity, grace, and realism.
After taking those several deep breaths, I stood up from my computer. I went out onto the balcony, for about 3 minutes in the freezing air. It was a way to cleanse and know that Priscilla’s spirit was still there, holding me, that the world was still turning and that I could make this book into something worth sharing. I knew what I had to do.
I went inside and sang with Garth Brooks for over an hour. Singing is the way to cut to the heart of life for me, and Garth’s songs have always been my go-to when I’m at the lowest. You can say what you want about country music, but you cannot deny that it cuts right down to the bare bones of the human condition. It always has, and hopefully always will. In that same way, my book, I promise you, will be a soul-baring of the human condition, and through my words will flow Priscilla’s vitality and drive.
The last song I chose was one which Priscilla and I took to heart every day we had on this Earth together. I encourage you, if you so choose or have the ability to, , to do as the last line says:
“So tell that someone that you love
Just what you’re thinking of
If tomorrow never comes.”
Owner and founder of Present Momentum Coaching. Life coach, accessibility specialist, musicologist, singer, and advocate for persons with disabilities.