Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Race to Revise

Sigh. I've procrastinated...again.

Toward the end of last year/beginning of this one, I sat down and tried to pull together some writing goals for the year. OK, that sounds more grandiose than the reality...I tried to pull together some writing goals for the first quarter of the year, specifically some essays, poems, and short stories I wanted to work on to submit to various publications. Some of those publications had submission deadlines, either regular ones or contest-related, so I conscientiously jotted down the projects I wanted to attempt and the order in which I needed to tackle them if I wanted to submit them on time.

That's pretty organized for me. But then the hard part came. I had to actually sit down and write.

I don't know why that's been so hard lately. I know I get great joy from it when I actually do it, so why can't I make more time in my life to do one of the things I love most? I have all sorts of "busy-excuses" -- a few of which are even real and almost justifiable -- but most of it comes down to tiredness and a feeling that right now, with my limited energy, it's just hard -- the few precious minutes I can snatch each day for creative work, often not even connected minutes, are not enough. So I don't do it, at least not as often as I want to.

Thus far a deadline or two has floated past without me even coming close. But there's one deadline coming up for an online magazine looking for essay submissions (the Jane Austen Society of North America's online version of their journal Persuasions) and I really, really want to make this one. It's a March 1 deadline, and because February does that sneaky 28 day thing, the first of March has snuck up on me unbelievably quickly. Added to which, our February has just been nuts -- D. has been working unbelievably long hours at both jobs, I've been working regular hours plus trying to do more at home, we've had computer problems, and on and on. I've been working on the essay -- one I think could be really good -- in fits and starts for weeks. But it just hasn't come together.

Two days ago I was about to give up. I still didn't have a whole rough draft. I needed two books for reference purposes. One I'd managed to get again (via inter-library loan) this past Saturday. The other one I had actually *ordered* (that's how much I wanted to finish this essay) because I didn't own the edition of Pride and Prejudice they wanted writers to cite, and I couldn't find it anywhere loanable. Two days ago that copy hadn't yet come in the mail, and I was despairing.

"Tell me to stop," I said to Dana. "Honestly, just tell me to give it up, because otherwise I'm going to have to stay up really late trying to get this done. I don't even know if the book will come in time for me to get the right citations anyway. And my sister's coming this weekend and I need to clean the house. "

My husband, wise and precious person that he is, basically stayed silent. He's good at that, much better than I am at knowing when not to say something. He knew I was wrestling this out in my own head, trying to talk myself out of it. I said some more desparing things and waited for him to tell me that yes, if I was smart I'd just throw in the towel on this thing and go vacuum.

But of course he didn't say that. And of course the book arrived today.

So. I spent the hour or so of S's nap feverishly finishing a first draft. It's done, but raggedly shaped. I need to reshape it, then give a big editing, then give it at least one finetuned editing. And then I need to get it emailed by Thursday.

Can it be done? I don't know, but I can tell by the way my blood was pumping this afternoon that I've given up the idea of giving up. The race to revise is on. Stay tuned!


Erin said...

Oooooh, now *I'm* getting all tingly with anticipation. You must run with perseverence the race marked out for you, Beth; a brilliant essay (that I hope I will get to read ;) ) is on the horizon! Keep on keeping on! :D

Beth said...

Ah Erin, you are such an encouragement! Believe me, this is nowhere approaching brilliance, but I still think it could at least be good. And right now it's the principle of the thing. Darn it, I want to finish it! :-)

Thanks for the snail mail card, by the way. I loved it!