So I won’t worry about my timing
I wanna get it right
No comparing, second guessing
No not this time…
Kelly Clarkson, “Sober”
When the idea for this entry first popped into my mind, I had absolutely no idea what song lyrics to use to help illustrate what I’m going to be talking about. With my first entry, I knew immediately. With this entry, I knew exactly what kind of lyrics I wanted to use, but I couldn’t think of any actual lyrics. It was bothering me, because I know that I’ve heard songs with appropriate lyrics. I can almost hear those songs, but I can’t place the lyrics of what song they’re from. So I tried something different this time around … I chose lyrics from Kelly Clarkson’s “Sober,” which is an absolutely beautiful song. They’re lyrics that don’t exactly fit the main idea of this entry, but ones that will hopefully help to illustrate the thoughts behind it just as well. I know, I know, that probably makes no sense … but hopefully it will soon.
I’m a multi-tasker by nature. I always have been, and I probably always will be. I think it’s because I always like to accomplish as much as I can – to complete goals and be productive. Granted, my multi-tasking takes on a bit of a different form when it comes to my writing, but it’s still there. I’m actively seeking a literary agent for my first book right now – writing and sending out query letters to as many agents as I can find. At the same time, I’m editing the second book and writing the third (and probably the fourth, seeing as how the third book is at 850 pages already). At first I thought it might be too confusing to work on the different books at once, but I quickly discovered that wasn’t the case. To the contrary, it actually allows me to immerse myself in it more, because I’m constantly remembering what has happened in previous chapters/books and then weaving that in to my current writing. That’s something I always try to do – take details from previous chapters/books and tie them in whenever I can. I think of it as a thread that’s woven through the pages of all the books, bringing a sense of continuity, so to speak. Even though I initially thought this multi-tasking may make matters confusing, it has actually had the opposite effect.
That brings me to the point I’m trying to make with this blog (those of you who know me know that I am actually incapable of writing anything short, so please bear with me in regard to the length of some of my posts!). Editing is definitely the most time consuming part of the whole process. There are so many potential changes to make; there are always ways to improve upon what is already there and to make it better. I am lucky enough to have help from some truly wonderful people in this process, people who have given so freely of their time to read through my manuscripts and make suggestions. I will forever be grateful to both Amanda and my mom, both of whom have dedicated so much time to reading through my books and making suggestions. I’ll admit, it can be quite a daunting task to sit down and edit, to know there are SO many changes that can be made. I’ve learned something through this whole part of the process, though. There are ALWAYS going to be changes that can be made, no matter how many edits I make. There will always be things to delete, things to add, things to condense, things to explain … the list goes on. I’m slowly learning that with something like this, there is no “perfect.” It’s taken me awhile to fully understand that. I have been a perfectionist my entire life, especially with my writing. This has been especially true with these novels. They’re such a part of me, of who I am … it’s like putting my heart onto the page (well – computer screen, I suppose), and I want it to be as perfect as it can be. I understand now, though, that it won’t ever be perfect. Nothing is ever perfect. All I can do is try my best and make it as perfect as it can be … and if that means I use the word “lightly” twice in a paragraph or I happen to really love the phrase “you are my home,” that’s okay. It’s okay because it’s a part of my writing and a part of me. I can spend a countless amount of time editing (believe me, sometimes it feels never-ending) … and there will still be things I can change. And that’s alright. I don’t think I would have been able to say that at the beginning of the editing part of this journey. I’d have said I want it to be completely perfect. Now, I want it to be the very best it can possibly be. If that means editing the same chapter over again, if that means doing a third round of edits – that’s fine. I know it’ll never be perfect, nothing ever is – but my goal is to make it the best it can be. All I can do is try my best.
So this brings me to the lyrics. Like I said, I couldn’t find any that were perfect – and maybe that’s the whole point, because not everything can always be perfect. With something this important, I’m not going to worry about the timing. I want to get it right. I want to get it as right as it can possibly be – and always look for ways to make it better. Editing isn’t about second guessing yourself – it’s about taking what comes from your heart and making it the best it can possibly be.
One of my favorite lines in this song is what I used as the title, “picked all my weeds, but kept the flowers.” I truly believe that applies to so many things, including writing. Sure, there are the “weeds” in the writing – the same word used over and over again without even realizing it (trust me on this one – it happens a LOT!!), but that’s not what’s important. The “flowers” are what’s important – the words, feelings, and emotions that flow from your heart onto the page. Sure, it would be great if things could be perfect … but is anything ever really perfect? Perhaps we need to stop focusing on that perfection and just focus on the flowers…