A Labor of Love.

“I’ve got a theory that if you give 100 percent all of the time, somehow things will work out in the end.”
~Larry Bird

Confession: I am really, really, R-E-A-L-L-Y ready to be finished with edits for this book. In fact, that point was reached … hmm, probably sometime last week. Or the week before. Or the week before that. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but the gist of it is true. It’s super cool to see the book come together into its tightest version, but sometimes the thought of journeying through more rounds of revisions has me wanting to pull my hair out. There’s just so much to condense. Yes, it’s been a fabulous learning process in more ways than one. Yes, it’s taught me things my previous books haven’t. Yes, the story is stronger for it, and that alone makes the countless hours worth it. And yes, most of the time I sincerely do enjoy the work. The actual writing will always be my favorite part, but there’s something almost enlightening about the revision process. But in terms of practicality? Here’s an equation:

Five hours of consistent editing per day + another hour or two of query research and writing + a mind that absolutely refuses to turn off, even during downtime = bleariness. Seriously, it’s no wonder that my vision’s swimming by the end of each day. Fellow writers – or anyone who spends the majority of the day sitting at a desk – I need your help. Any tips for reducing eye strain? Neck aches? My back has been bothering me, too, but that’s my own fault, because I tend to sit very far forward in my chair when I work. Apparently my subconscious thinks that the closer I physically am to the computer screen, the closer I’ll be threaded into the folds of the editing process. Ha. I’ve been making a point to keep better, straighter posture, though, and it’s helping. Does anyone have any ideas for easing neck pain? Mine has been bugging me a lot lately, and given that I spend so many hours with it in the same position, that’s understandable. I’m really trying to fix it now, and any suggestions anyone has would be most appreciated. Thanks in advance, y’all.

Back to the editing process. I’m proud to say that, 3/4 through the third round of revisions, I have officially cut out nearly 40,000 words and 119 pages. How crazy is that? I think back to the first book I wrote, when deleting more than a sentence at a time had me cringing. It, quite literally, makes me laugh out loud. Writing this manuscript was the catharsis I needed during such a terribly horrendous time in my life, and continuing work on it now … it’s done more than simply teach me about the craft. It’s taught me how to let go, how to part with things that aren’t necessary – no matter how attached I may feel to them – and that sometimes less really is more. Maybe those are lessons I needed to learn. Maybe they’re ones we all need a reminder of sometimes.

And, because I find this too cool a phenomenon not to share, one of the things I wasn’t expecting as much from revisions is how surprised I’ve been – surprised by things I wrote that I honestly have no recollection of typing out. I guess it’s because I was so completely and fully immersed in the story, so wrapped up in the mindset of my characters, but there have been a few times when I come across a paragraph and am literally taken aback by it. “I WROTE that?” I think to myself. It’s kinda strange, but kinda cool, too. Has anyone else ever had that happen?

I’ll be at the shore next week – we’re squeezing in a few more days there since Hurricane Irene rained on our parade last time, and I am DETERMINED to finish this round of edits before leaving on Monday. I have been working on this one for two and a half weeks now – I’m being so strict about deletions that I only get through 20-25 pages per day – and will be forcing myself to take an actual break while we’re away this time. As much as I love these characters and telling their story, my eyes need a rest. My neck, back, and head need a rest. But my mind? Well, no promises about not beginning some outlining and planning on the next book in the interim. This may be a labor, after all, but it’s one of true love. It’s one where giving anything other than a hundred percent is unfathomable. It’s a true, deeply entrenched work of heart. And that? It makes it all worth it.


8 thoughts on “A Labor of Love.

    • Thank you for the smile :-) This editing insanity makes me feel more like the person who needs rescuing from the superhero, so I’ll happily take your description instead! And seriously, thank you so, so, so much for listening to me vent my frustrations throughout this whole process. Super excited for you to finally read DE soon!!

  1. Wow, sounds like you’ve really done a number on that ms. Congrats!!

    Unfortunately, yes, that often goes hand in hand with doing a number on your own body. :(

    The biggest thing for reducing pain, for me, was getting a separate keyboard. I fought it for a LONG TIME, since I was basically vain and stubborn and wanted my Macbook to exist in all its glory alone. But seriously? You need to be able to put the keyboard and the monitor at the right heights for your body, and that can’t be done when they’re stuck to one another.

    Another big key is taking breaks and doing stretches. Once per hour (or 2, if you’re really on a roll) get up and walk around for 2-3 minutes. Do a couple yoga poses (this one is really good for my back – http://www.vacupractor.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/yoga-stretch.jpg). And while you’re working, if you stop to think for a moment, use that blank stare time to look at something far away (at least 20 ft).

    Hope that helps! And good luck, you’re in the home stretch! I hope to be right behind you. ;)

    • You are a rockstar, Kristan. Thank you SO much for the suggestions! I have some neck stretches/exercises that I’ve been doing, but I made a point of standing up and walking away from my desk this morning, and just that made such a difference. I also added in the yoga pose you linked to and could definitely feel it ease some of the tension. That will absolutely be a part of my regular routine from now on.

      My doctor mentioned that, too, about the screen on a laptop being at a non-ideal height. I’ve tried boosting it by setting it on books/boxes, but you’re totally right, nothing’s going to compare to the separate keyboard and monitor. This computer is going on four years old, and even though it’s become somewhat of an appendage, when I get a new one, that’s something I will be majorly factoring into my decision.

      Thank you again for all the help — and good luck to you, too! I’m so excited to see what’s in store for you and your book :)

  2. Shari, you NEVER cease to amaze and inspire me. You are truly incredible.

    I love following your journey and getting glimpses of your world! I can’t believe you have cut 40,000 words! That blows my mind! I know that one day when I finally get to the editing process (slowwwwwwwly but surely for me) I will cringe at the thought of cutting things. I will be coming back to read all your posts to ease the pain! :)

    I’m so glad you’re going back to the shore! Enjoy it. Let yourself take a break from everything dear, you deserve it!

    • Well, that goes both ways, because you are always an inspiration to me, too. Your sunny, optimistic perspective gives such hope.

      I think we’ve mentioned this before – but I’d love to share/swap manuscripts with you one day. With all the heart and soul you’re putting into yours, I know it’s going to be so special. As for the editing process … it is definitely painful at first. It’s taken me three books and almost two years to get to a point where I’m not only comfortable cutting 40,000 words, but actually excited about it, because I can see how it improves the story. You’ll get there too, I know it!

      Thank you — not only for the kind words, but for all your support and friendship. It means the world :-)

  3. Whoa! 40,000 words?!? Incredible! I can understand why you’re getting tired of revisions, but it sounds like you’ve been doing a great job with them. And I know what you mean about reading something and thinking, “I wrote that? When did I do that?” It happens to me, too.

    As for easing the pain, can you choose a different chair? I know it’s comfy to hang out on the couch with your laptop, or wherever you like to sit, but another position may help. For eye strain, doing some hard copy edits could help. I think there’s a way to inverse your screen, too, so the background is black and the words are white. Don’t know if that will help, but it seems it might.

    • I’m up to about 42,000 after today, and boy, am I ever ready to be FINISHED with this process. It’s cool to see things come together, and it’s been an experience so different from my other books, but I’ll admit that part of me wants to groan every morning when I plunk myself down in the desk chair and know I’m not getting up (aside from the stretch breaks I’m now taking) until at least 1000 words are deleted. Never again will I write anything this long!

      I’ve been thinking about switching my desk chair, too. It’s really comfortable, but it doesn’t fit all the way under the actual desk, so I can’t push it in. That, in turn, makes me lean forward sometimes, and that can’t be good for the back. Okay, and HOW COOL is that about inversing the screen? I had no idea that was possible, but am definitely going to try to figure out how!! After this round of revisions is through, I’m going to print out a hard copy and do a final read through that way. So excited to get a break from staring at this screen!

      Thank you so, so much for all the suggestions!!

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