Recently I had a conversation with my editor in which she remarked on the fact that I was so emotionally attached to my stories. She and the team had assumed my collection was mostly autobiographical. I denied it. I professed that only one story had me in it - The Marathon.
As The Notes They Played came together, I had to hurdle "the process." You know what it's like when you try something new. You take everything you thought about that new thing with you, and you start from there. In my mind writing is 95% writer and 5% editor. My editor had a different point of view. One of her many talents is ghost writing, so she's accustomed to writing words for people.
I wanted this collection to be all mine. She needed to be able to help me hone my craft. We are both very stubborn. She has the experience and the education to back up her assertions when things needed to be reworded to make my words more powerful, proper grammatically, or less tedious (she likes that particular word a lot)!
I'm a first born and an attorney, so I'm always right. Always. Until you prove me wrong. In fact, one of my dearest friends doesn't even bother to argue with me anymore, all the time, when we disagree. She states her opinion. I argue against it. Sometimes she doesn't even bat an eye at my dissension. Days, weeks, or months later, upon discovering the truth, I call her and tell her just how smart she is. She loves that.
Just in case my husband is reading; this is not to say that I am always wrong. I'm right a lot! Always, really...
I like things a certain way. That didn't change when I wrote this book. I doubt it will change when I write the ones that may follow. I maintained that if I'm putting my words out into the word and signing my name to them, then the end product must be conceived and arranged by (mostly) me.
I have no experience in publishing and I was not trained as a writer. But, I know what it is to pick up a book and to feel exactly what the author wants you to feel exactly when she wants you to feel it. I know what it's like to rush to get to the end of that book that you can't put down, and then immediately and truly lament the loss of those characters once you've finished. I know how it feels to be haunted by a story for weeks after reading that final sentence. I know that all of that really only adds up to a tiny particle of what magnificent writing is about.
I am not yet a magnificent writer. This is a journey I'm on and I understand that with hard work, prayer, and guidance (that maybe one day I'll listen to without any rebuff), I can perhaps write a book that I won't worry over. Boy, am I worrying over this one! I think it's possible that one day I'll tell a story that no one has ever told before; one that sucks the reader in, chews her up and spits her out forever changed in a wonderful way.
I hadn't thought my stories were about me at all. And then I read through all of them, the way my audience might, for the final edits. I'd worked on them one by one, or sometimes two at a time, but never read all of them through in the order they will appear in print.
It amazed me, really, the parallels between the lives of my characters and my life. The minuscule ways and blaring ways that I and my friends and my family shimmered in between the lines. I was taken aback. It was true, then, that I was so adamant about wording because the words held personal emotion for me. I fought tooth and nail over punctuation because that period was in my life. Nothing could be deleted or even adjusted without somehow erasing or altering something of me, or of someone I love.
And so I stand corrected. Again.
I'm all over these stories. Not always as a player. Sometimes I'm there as an observer; just telling you what I saw when I was in this certain place at this certain time and came across this unforgettable person that sparked my spirit and wouldn't let me rest until I told that story. Sometimes I had to finish the story in the best way I could with the information available to me at the time.
So, I am in this collection, on every single page. And, so may be you!