Yesterday – oh what a day it became by its end. I typed up the new pages of The Mercy Hour I’d written while on vacation. Each line delighted me. Sometimes I don’t remember exactly what I wrote for a particular conversation or scenario and when I reread it there comes a wondrous sense of self-discovery. One of my favorite things about writing the book on paper first is the chance to improve upon it right away as I type it. I come across a sentence in which I know what I mean to say but there is no way the reader will likewise know. It must be reworded, rephrased, rethought! Those sentences stare me down with a challenge in their gaze. Do better! I love that challenge every single time it arises.
In the process of typing those pages (I’m in the middle of chapter eleven now!) I had an epiphanic flash regarding Full of Days, the finished, unpublished manuscript. The start of Full of Days has never sat well with me. There are few things I know about writing well but one is that the beginning of the story must grab the reader, drawing them into its tale with only a few paragraphs. The beginning of my manuscript is weak. If I’m honest with myself, I don’t think the first paragraphs would cause me to read the rest of the book. As the first three chapters often make up the sample I’m able to send to publishers, I’ve wondered if this uncompelling beginning has been a principal factor in the manuscript rejections. But to return to yesterday! Seemingly out of nowhere, for my imagination was consumed by the characters of The Mercy Hour, it dawned on me how to rework the start of Full of Days without eliminating anything essential. Why couldn’t I have thought of it sooner? Like, before I ever sent it to publishers! Ah well, I mustn’t complain about the timing of the insight. Who knows how it might help me in future submissions.
After work last night I was desperate to make the changes which were already written out in my imagination. Three hours at my favorite coffeehouse and I not only had all the new material typed up but also the first few pages of Full of Days rewritten to my great satisfaction. I don’t know if there are any necessary words besides “giddy” to describe my general spirit last night. The energy provided by some good hours of writing are comparable to all those wonderful endorphins produced during a great workout. There was no going to sleep at my usual time. My mind could not consent to rest. Instead I finished reading an L. M. Montgomery novel. This brought me no closer to sleep as the beauty of her writing and the magnificence of the story stirred up a veritable stew of emotions.
There are particular books that tear at my writer’s soul. Excellence, beauty, effectiveness – a work like this assaults me. In reading it, I am thrilled to be a “writer,” for whatever that’s worth, and at the same moment pulled down into doubt of whether I can ever write anything meaningful and worthwhile. The events of last night – the new pages, rewriting the start of the manuscript, reading a gorgeous novel – somehow overwhelmed me. Last night was one of those “fully alive” nights. You know, those moments when you are engaged with life to the fullest, far beyond the engagement in the usual minutes and hours compiling your days. You are fully yourself alive. They are glorious times, are they not? This particular one has left me with the feeling of an old wine skin that cannot possibly contain itself much longer. The emotion… the thrill and urgency that are simultaneously elating and burdening me will not recede. I could scream, or sing, or sprint. I could burst into a thousand twinkling pieces to settle in the sky with no hope of return. I could write. I will write.