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Saturday, May 28, 2011

4 days of seclusion

Finally I gave way to something I’d been wanting to, for the past 3 months. Last week I took 2 days extra off, so as to have a 4 day weekend and was using these days to only edit the book. I felt it was time. Actually for weeks and weeks I felt as though the editing process was way overdue.

I made an attempt to start the process, 6 weeks ago. But I didn’t get very far. I was constantly distracted by life and just exhausted from work. I was making excuses that the circumstances around me never seemed to be fitting perfectly for the job to get done, properly. Secluding myself felt nearly impossible. However once I moved into my apartment, I had no more excuses. I figured distractions were what I was bringing on myself and I realized that the perfect circumstances would never magically present themselves. My own apartment and where I now am, is probably as perfect as it will ever get, at this moment in time. All I needed was to foresee that I wouldn’t be focusing on teaching or colleagues for longer than 1 day at a time. And to have that, I decided to take a leave of absence and withdraw myself from the job, from the people and from China.

At first I didn’t know if I’d be able to follow through. I didn’t know if I’d cope without having any contact with others, for 4 straight days. I didn’t know if I’d be able to get myself into that proper space where the story starts living and breathing again. I didn’t even know if I still had the ability to write in the same manner as the book had been written in. But I figured I’d waited too long, I had to put this editing before teaching, only for 4 days and I had to see if I was capable of still being the ‘writer’.

Well, the way the 4 days planned out, was really better than I could’ve hoped for. I managed to seclude myself and to not be distracted by colleagues crying down the phone over their heartbreak or by invitations to coffee or by the heaving traffic and the hype of activity that takes place outside my apartment. I managed to live and breathe the story again and I loved every minute of it. On Sunday night, just as the week was ending, I was still in teaching mode. And Monday morning I woke up and had to be something totally different. And I successfully became the ‘writer’ overnight!

I’d set myself the target of editing the whole book within 4 days. Of course I was placing the bar of expectation way too high, which is something I’ve always been inclined to do. But I hoped that by putting on this pressure, it was push me to my limits and definitely result in me being in the position of approaching agencies again. I wanted so desperately for draft 2 of my first manuscript to be completed within the space of 4 days. So Monday morning I woke up with this attitude. I was quick to realize that putting on pressure doesn’t let the story live at all! It only stops the flow. I realized on day 1 that this book is something so delicate – as is every story. And every book has so much personality and just blatantly editing without a conscious approach is risky and almost an insult to the story that’s already been written. So once the pressure was off, the flow started. And I was, without effort, in my own zone. During those 4 full days I had only 2 phone conversations (to offer a heartbroken Lauren some support) and any other contact was through text messages. I left my apartment once a day, for an hour, just to get some fresh air. But each time, as I was walking through the streets of this Chinese city, I didn’t feel to be here at all! I was zoned-out and in a daze. I felt so different, was constantly drawn back to the laptop and wasn’t seeing China at all. The more time I spent with the story and the more creative I became, the more it all felt to be coming together, even more so than before.

And did I finish it? No, not quite and I’m totally fine with that. I’ve only got the tiniest fraction to go. And I’m delighted. Because now that I’ve started, I feel like this is all there is. I know that I can dip in and out now, on a daily basis. I know the story needs constant attention, or else it will go stale again.
And so, I can honestly say I’ve truly fallen in love again with this draft. I feel more confident now that the story is accessible for others. I chopped so much – 20.000 words so far. At first I was cautious every time I pressed the backspace and delete button, but by doing so, I learnt that - even if I do delete some words or paragraphs that blew me away - the words are always there! I found that I’m still able to relive everything in such a way and bring it into word, so that what I’m communicating will always be as deep, as passionate or as superficial and entertaining as I experienced the actual event. It was actually a relief to learn this. It made the editing an easy and safe process. And I’m not going to excuse myself for saying that I’ve fallen in love again with the story. Because, no matter how ‘big headed’ that may sound, I have to love what I’ve done and I have to believe that it’s going to be the best it can be. I figure that if the only one in the world who’s representing my book at the moment (which is me!), fails to believe in the potential this story has, then how could that same person expect for the rest of the world to believe in it? So, yes I say it’s amazing once again.

So, after those 4 amazing days, was I able to be the teacher one day and the ‘writer’ – in China –the next? I most certainly was! And now that the book has been re-opened, the process will continue until it’s exactly how I want it to be. I can already say that it won’t long before I’ll be sending out messages to those willing to hear, that draft number 2 of my first manuscript is complete. Because, I’ve started something now and I can’t do anything else other than see it through – maybe at lightning speed!

1 comment:

  1. I love it! Alloting time for YOU is incredibly important. I am glad that it allowed you to find your flow again. I cannot wait to read the finished product!