I’m in the middle of working with my editor on the current work in progress. I’ve posted here before about what that revision process is like, but here’s a quick synopsis before I get the meat of this post. The process goes something like this:
‘This is the best thing I’ve ever written!”
“This is the worst thing I’ve ever written!”
And so on. You get the idea. But today, I was focused in particular on four chapters that were so bad they even had the editor confused. She had to resort to a spread sheet to figure out what was going on. All four chapters lacked a reaction to previous action, a goal, and a new scene. The problem was the linear way I wrote individual stories and stitched them together, and was actually fixed (I hope) by the end of the day.
But here’s something I noticed, that all writers will recognize.
I was so deeply immersed in the story today, that it became more real to me than what was going on around me.
My husband would come in for something, like starting to cook dinner, and apologize for distracting me. Of course it was no distraction, but each time something like that happened there was this weird disconnect where, for a moment, I wasn’t sure what was going on.
Have you ever been deeply asleep and in the middle of a dream, when the alarm goes off or the phone rings, or something jolts you awake? There’s that moment of feeling like the world just tilted, where you don’t know where you are, or which is the true reality.
That’s the way it’s been today. My focus has been so zeroed in on the characters, that I could hear them talking, that I was right there with them, and that my husband became, for a brief moment in time, the imaginary character in a story. I may have to go pinch him to make sure he’s real.
There’s always a similar sensation when writing, of course, when the words are flowing perfectly and the outside world disappears. But today there was a different intensity to that and I think it was because the focus was on editing rather than creating.
I’ve spent three years with these characters, shaping the story around them. So it’s not like they’re strangers. But today it was like they were lost and I had to work hard to walk the trail with them.
Even now, while taking a break, my mind is only partway paying attention here. I’m still back there in the story. More than likely, knowing me, I’ll dream about it tonight.
It’s getting late. But I think I can spend one more hour in their world. On to the next chapter.