And the beat goes on.

“I’ve been here before
I’ll be back for more
Maybe this time I can stay
Forever more…”
~Melinda Doolittle, “Coming Back To You”

Before I start writing about the actual topic of this entry, can I just take a moment to squee over last night’s American Idol finale? Or, more to the point, one particular performance that still has people talking today – the tribute to Simon Cowell, featuring seven out of eight previous winners and many more of everyone’s favorite finalists from over the years. I’ve always hoped Idol would do something like that, and while I wish they would have given more airtime to the former contestants instead of having so many guest stars, I absolutely LOVED the one performance we did get. There was something really special about seeing so many of them on stage at the same time, all united “together as one” in a song that was, at least for me, the highlight of the whole show. It made my Idol-loving heart happy, which is why I’m so glad to be using a song of Melinda’s for this entry.

In a way, I think the music and publishing industries are quite similar. They each require passion and dedication, hard work and an outlook that’s both open and optimistic. And they’re both cyclical in nature, with the beat – or the writing process – always going on and on. I was reminded of this the other day when an idea for With a Little Bit of Luck popped into my head. I was sitting at my desk and writing (shocker, yes?), when all of a sudden a burst inspiration hit me for something that I just needed to add to my manuscript. It didn’t matter that I finished writing it in February. It didn’t matter that it’s already been through four rounds of edits and I’ve been querying agents for just about two months now. All that mattered was that I had to include this idea, this sentence, in the last chapter. It was something I had touched on throughout the book and something that I just instincively knew would make the ending stronger. And, reading over the final chapter, I knew exactly where I wanted to put the sentence. It was a chance for me to show another way that my main character, Emily, had grown over the course of her journey … so even though the novel’s last paragraph has been written for months (seriously, the idea for it popped into my head way before I got to that point in my work), I was okay with going back and slipping this sentence in. I was okay with it because I knew it was best for Emily, best for the lessons she had learned, and best for the book.

I’ve always had trouble being the “go with the flow” type. I know it’s good to let that ease and flexibility play a role, but working on this novel has shown me that more than any other experience I’ve ever had. Sometimes it’s not only alright, but beneficial, to stray away from that straight line that goes from point A to point B. Sometimes it’s that twist in the road that makes it worth traveling. Sometimes we just have to listen to that burst of inspiration, even if it takes that straight line and bends it into a circle. Now, I’m well aware that adding a sentence to the end of my novel isn’t exactly breaking some set-in-stone mold, and I’m also of the genuine belief that with writing, the editing process never ends. There’s always going to be something to change, something that could be added. There will always be room to grow and develop, and I think that’s a wonderful thing. Beautiful, in fact. Because really, how can we move forward in our careers and our lives if we’re determined to stand still and not act on that burst of inspiration when it hits?

I know, I know. Too much introspection as a result of one sentence. Twenty-three words. But the fact that I was so excited to add them to my manuscript? To me, that’s telling. It was a reminder to me yet again how much I love this, how determined I am to keep working as hard as I can until it’s my career. I’m excited by the idea of this journey being one that constantly helps me grow. I’m excited to see what’s waiting down the road. I’m excited to keep coming back for more.

Are you? Have you ever had a similar experience? And what did you think of the Idol finale?


6 thoughts on “And the beat goes on.

  1. SEND ME THE SENTENCE SEND ME THE SENTENCE. Oh, wait, i don’t want to wreck the ending, so i’ll demand the sentence later!!! i totally do that, randomly going back and just putting something in that just NEEDS to be there!!

    *goes back to reading WALBOL*

    • How did I know you’d be able to relate? :) I promise to resend the last paragraph when you get to that point. It’s funny, out of the entire manuscript, that was one of the parts I was most sure about keeping the way I had originally written it … but now I can’t imagine it without the additional sentence. I guess this is proof that editing CAN be fun? ;-)

      Hope you’re enjoying it!!

      • YES!!! you don’t love editing? i always, if i can and time allows, like to have it sit for three days, looking it over a few times. yes, it’s ocd, but if i’m happy with it after three days of no changes, i know i won’t look back in again. the gift is wrapped! lol.

        and sometimes, it’s that one sentence, that one thought, that resonates with readers the most.

        • Okay, so your comment really made me stop and think. No matter what I’m reading, I almost always find a sentence — or, usually, more than one — that stands out and resonates with me even after I’ve finished the book. This whole process has reminded me that writing isn’t always as linear a process as it seems, so now you have me wondering if any of the lines/ideas I’ve related to so strongly ended up being an editing addition, too!

          Hmm, and I’d have to say that sometimes I love editing. The sense of going back in, tightening things up, adding tidbits that further extend the ideas, that definitely speaks to my creative side. With this novel, I went through so many rounds of edits to ensure that everything was as tight as could be (five rounds, including the ones I did after I finished writing every chapter), that I was definitely ready for a break afterwards.

          I LOVE your three day method! It sounds like the perfect amount of time – not too long, not too short – for something like that. Have you found that it always works for you?!?

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