Up until last week Thursday I was adamant that draft 2 HAD to be complete by this week. But, man oh man, the pressure I’ve been putting on myself to get it done, has been so… unbearable almost. Last week Tuesday I just about cracked, for forcing myself so much. It was the last day of the ‘weekend’ and I’d put such high expectations on myself, for what I had to finish on that particular day.
After a few hours of editing, I found myself so deep in the story, at probably the most painful part of the whole script and that’s where I blocked. I was reliving the past, as I was editing and I BLOCKED at the most crucial stage!!!!! By getting so emotionally swept away by everything I was reading, the block was massively intense and it just about brought every past issue to the surface and it exploded in my face. I was deep down in my own ‘shit’ again. I thought I was never going to get passed it.
I almost ran from my apartment, the walls were coming down around me and I charged my way through the streets of Jinzhou to the nearest coffee shop. I had to get away from the book and into the present day… And that’s what being in the coffee shop forced me to do. I sat there, with my journal, looking like a heap of sh*t and feeling even worse. I had a cup of milk tea with honey beans and sat and wrote and wrote and wrote… I spilled all of ‘guts’ onto paper until I was able to unblock myself and step out of those past fears and see what exactly I was doing in life, where I was going and what I’ve become, since experiencing the contents of my book some 3 years ago. Man oh man. It was an intense day. And it wasn’t until Thursday I realized that I need to approach this editing process far different than I have been…
After I completed draft 1, I closed the book and it felt to be a done deal and so I figured I needed to aim to do the same with draft 2. I wanted it complete, so I could close the book and offer it to all. But, I’ve realized that by having this as my target, I was putting on far too much pressure. Regardless of the fact that I actually AM nearly done with draft 2 (apart from a few final touches and a couple of ‘rereads’), I need to keep this version OPEN. I’m not going to be closing it as though it’s a done deal. Because it’s only going to be a done deal, when an outsider has taken a proper look and when it goes to print! Haha..
Following Tuesdays disruption, I realized by Friday morning, that 30% of my story is almost too delicate for me to have the mental ability to go into that painful depth on a regular basis. For many different reasons it doesn’t feel right to force myself into that part of my past. Working 40 hours a week and having to deal with teaching, even outside of these 40 hours, is the biggest part of why I don’t always feel able to deal with those depths. Yes, my weekends are my free time. But reliving something so painful means I need time to get over it again. And there is no time, because the weekends fly and suddenly it’s time to teach again. And when I’m done with work, I need time to get over that too. Teaching may be ‘only’ a 40 hour work week, but it’s a job that’s all-consuming and physically, emotionally and mentally draining – if you don’t take time to recuperate.
So, Friday morning, I felt I needed to distance myself from that deeper part of the book. And with that notion, I contacted the agent in Dublin; the guy who I’d been in touch with, just before coming to China (the publisher who has set-up his own agency) and who also advised me to edit the first draft, before possibly choosing to hand over the book to a professional editor. It had been 10 weeks since I last got in touch with him. So I wasn’t too sure whether or not it was the best step to take. Especially as I still have a few finishing touches to apply. But I sent him an email, telling him I’ve finished most of draft 2 and wondered if he was still interested in taking a look. And yesterday (Monday) I checked my email. He’d replied straight away, with the simple answer: Send it on!
Well, I was delighted of course… and yesterday and today (my weekend) I’ve been working to get the first half into tip top shape. I’ve distanced myself from the deep stuff for a while, and have been giving the main focus to the part that needs to grip the reader. I emailed the first quarter today. And I feel so good about it. I don’t know what he’ll think of course, I don’t if anything will come of it. But at least I’m trying. I’m not going to force myself anymore. I might struggle in going against that force, which is something I’ve always struggled with. Because when you want something so badly in life, isn’t it okay to make some sacrifices? Isn’t the only way to get things, by working hard? Nothing gets given to us without putting in the time and effort – in a healthy and balanced manner I guess… that’s probably the key that I’ve not been using over the past weeks… hummmm…
Yesterday I was chatting with Helen from work, and she had some sound advice; “Niamh, you’re in CHINA! Don’t let this experience pass you by, no matter how much you want to get your book ‘out there’… Yes, the book is apart of your life, but so is LIVING THIS PRESENT EXPERIENCE! Let yourself enjoy CHINA….” This was sound advice that definitely struck a cord! As well, I sometimes foret just how stressful life in China for a foreigner already is… especially with the teaching, the language barrier and ALWAYS being the object of observation wherever you go and whatever you do without bringing on more stress to… for example… EDIT AND PUBLISH a book!
How revealing… can’t wait to find out what happens next ;)