When I taught reading to middle school students who groaned loudly every time I asked them to read anything, I gave them this mantra: “I do not like to read, but I have to read.” I gave reasons why they should read. Those who allowed the sprinkled dust of tacit persuasion to touch their intellect bought into it.
Today, I find myself at crossroads and have to adopt my mantra in order to get over a huge chasm the size of the Grand Canyon. I do not like to revise my work, but I have to revise it for several reasons.
When a writer submits a purported best-write, and the publisher comes back with the proverbial red ink suggestions for a rewrite, it takes a lot to pump up the shoulders, keep eyes on the prize, and buckle down to those suggestions. I repeat: It takes a lot!
That is where I am. I have stated numerous times that I do not have the old fanged and famous diagnosis of writer’s block as hashed out by Edmund Bergler, Purdue Online Writing Lab, Irene Clark, and many others.
Since I have a continuous influx of ideas, I refuse to subscribe to this school of thought. I write because ideas bombard my brain constantly. I choose not to write not due to any writer’s block.
What I have is the Kilimanjaro-reluctance to do what I must do. Some will classify it as procrastination; others will call it writer’s block. I just refused to revise my work. Simple, case closed. Or is it?
I have been sitting on my publisher’s recommendations for months now. I wanted to arrive at a place where I actually would allow myself to take that novel apart, perform the necessary surgery, and reattach the limbs (if possible). It is a tall order, this submission to dismantling a well-built house with a wrecking ball.
I admit, ego blocked my progress. That confounded chip is the undoing and the downfall of a writer who refuses to detach herself from that most magnificent creation and be humble. Today was such a thing for me. I went to bed at 1:50 this morning because transformation gripped me. I devoured books by people who know the business. They told me to get over my elitist self.
They informed me that I was misinformed. Because I taught English, writing, and literature for decades, and because some colleagues called me “word wizard,” I figured I was that. They said I needed to get real, take off that title, fling it into the bottom of the Pacific, and find a tattered cloak of humility to put on for the world to see that I have written diddly, nada, nothing.
Heather Sellers and The Portable MFA in Creative Writing were kinder in their phraseology, but Les Edgerton let me have it without mincing words. When I say, “me,” I am sure he has no idea who I am, but the “me” refers to any reader who picks up Hooked. Yes, the man knows how to title his book. I was hooked from Page 1 until I put the book down around 1 A.M. and picked up Page after Page by Sellers.
With my tail tucked between my legs, I am humbled and owe my publisher an apology for wasting valuable time on what I should have finished months ago. Then again, I am glad I waited for the tough love that came.
It arrived early this morning with waves of inspiration and resolution crashing down on me to get my lazy behind on the chair, what Sellers calls “Butt-in-the-chair” determination. Needless to say, I needed a figurative kick in the shin (which hurts more than a kick on the derrière).
As any writer worth her salt knows, a writer must be a reader first and must read and read. I feel better now that I have heard other voices to imbue me to do what I must do.
“Go crazy! Punch a higher floor!” sang Prince. I am not letting the elevator bring me down, not until I finish this most important necessity. I hear Prince’s instrumental as I jump into revision. “Oh, no, let’s go! …Let’s go nuts!” (With revision, that is.)