When my kids were little, it seemed like every other week there was a social event I didn't want to attend. I'm a pretty social person (all these hours I spend alone writing need some balance) but sometimes there were things I just didn't want to do–school parties where all the mothers seemed far more together, knowledgeable and hip than I come to mind immediately. I was shyer then than I am now, and far less confident.
But I always went to these events. Always, once even after I'd had gum surgery and was in so much pain I could barely talk.
When I was moaning and groaning about having to go, I would tell myself one thing–it is for the kids.
It didn't matter what I thought, or what anyone thought of me. The most important thing was that I was going for the benefit of my child and I needed to be there for her/him. This bit of perspective has actually served me well through the years when I've used it to remind myself what is important in other arenas.
And I've thought about it a lot lately as I wind down the final revisions of my novel (ha! you knew I'd get it in here).
I'm reworking a crucial bit in one of the last chapters. By all accounts, I had a problem with this scene. My critique group recommended solving in one manner. Other readers had different ideas. And when I started working on the changes, I knew that neither were right. However, dumbly, I kept going. I tore apart that chapter. I kept telling myself that my instincts were wrong and that I needed to listen to others because they knew best. I was too close to the work, I told myself. I couldn't see the forest for the trees. (Those thoughts, of course, alternate with panicked ones like, Who is going to want to read this damn thing anyway?)
Finally, after much heavy sighing, staring out the window, and pacing (all crucial aspects of the rewriting process that honestly don't get their due) it hit me.
It is all for the book.
It doesn't matter what I think, doesn't matter what my critique group thinks, it doesn't matter what my readers think. What maters is what works for the book. Period.
It is all for the book.
That brilliant epiphany cleared the path for magic to happen–a third direction appeared. A different way in which to solve the problem occurred to me, and it is a stronger, better way. It is the way that is best for the book.
I had a nutritionist who dabbled in Jungian psychology once, and she would have called this grace.
I am grateful for it. (And honestly, I really am close to finishing this protracted rewrite. Truly. I'd probably have been done with it ages ago if I'd just quit writing about it.)
PS. Don't forget to enter the contest to win a free copy of the book, The Midnight Disease: The Drive To Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain by Alice W. Flaherty. You can find out how if you go here.