To Edit or To Write, That is the Question…

I’ve got Hamlet on my mind.  For the last month, I’ve been walking my sophomore through Hamlet and it’s only appropriate that I write something that is…inspired? attributed to Hamlet.

I’m the kind of person who has to nibble and gnaw at a project until I feel like I have completed it to the best of my ability.  And my writing is no exception.

Ten years ago, I wrote my first novel, The Pear Tree House.  And I really love this novel.  It’s been written and re-written and re-written.  I have edited every digital inch of that baby multiple times.  And I’m so proud of it.  Two years ago, I sent it out to be considered for publication.  And it was rejected.  Seven times.

Wow.  Seven.  Big whoppin’ deal.

In all honesty, I’m not whining.  But I know reality when I see it and I’m okay with that reality.  But I also know that I have worked and re-worked that novel so hard that I’ve possibly destroyed friendships with my literary gnawing.

Just one more edit and then it’ll be done.  Just one more edit and it’ll be ready.  Just one more edit.  Just one more edit.  Just one more edit.  

I started writing when I was about thirteen-years old.  My future sister-in-law, Sharon, gave me a journal for Christmas/my birthday.  I still have it.  It’s up in my attic and is filled with all the most embarrassing confessions a naive child could write in her journal.  But it’s my journal and it’s been written from cover to cover.

My father also started me on my literary journey.  When I was in ninth grade, I was drawing a picture of an angel surrounded by children.  It was going to be a gift for my mother and I spent hours working on it.  And then, one day, my father took it upon himself to talk to me with honesty, telling me that my picture was not as good as I thought it was.  But then he pulled out a poem I had written about three soldiers who had been sent to war and had died.

This is good, Graceless,” he said.  “You ought to write more like this.”

And that was it.  I stopped working on that picture and started writing.

I wrote everywhere.  In notebooks, on the backs of envelopes (because I heard that Emily Dickinson did it and I figured she was a good role model to follow…right?), even on the back of pictures of unicorns that I carried in my wallet.

I was inspired by anything and everything.  Kansas’s song “Dust in the Wind.”  The sunrise.  The sunset.  A beautiful boy in my creative writing class.  The sound of the wind.  Snow.  Rain.  Thunder storms.  My dreams.  My nightmares.  My reflection in my bedroom window.

Originally, I was going to be a dolphin trainer.  And then I took chemistry and nearly failed chemistry and my dream of being a dolphin trainer came to a screeching halt.  But I was still going to be a writer.  By this point, I as in eleventh grade and had a brain filled with stories that would create an amazing fantasy novel series.

I was ready.  I went to college, majored in English, and kept on writing on everything and about everything.  I took the obligatory creative writing class and hated it.  I got one comment on a short story:  “You write good.”

Oh boy.  Thanks.

One of my professors, my favorite professor, the hardest professor in the department read one of my stories and suggested that I should get it published.  I turned him down because I was afraid of rejection.  Stupid me.

When I was a junior in college, my parents sat me down.

“What are you going to do to earn money?”

“Write.”

And this conversation lasted for about an hour and by the time sixty minutes had expired, I realized that I needed to find a way to earn money in a world that wasn’t sympathetic to the starving writer/artist.  I became a teacher and have never regretted it.

I met Pat.  I kept on writing.  Sort of.  But life started getting in the way and I stopped picking up the pen or feeling the urge to write.  I even stopped dreaming of writing or of getting a book published.

I had children.  Writing became…nothing except for emails or letters of recommendation.  I became more of a literary analyst.  I learned to truly love the written word, but didn’t care if they were mine.

And then I met Lauren.  And she introduced me to Livejournal.  And then she wrote about a time she was a little girl and was standing outside a house, crying, while hanging out with a three-legged dog.  And I met Hayley who was writing poetry and they started Writers’ Guild and I started feeling the urge to write and to tell stories again.

I thought about writing fantasy novels.  And then I was actually asked to write a fantasy novel.  And I realized that I just didn’t care about fantasy novels anymore.

But I cared about writing.  So during National Novel Writing Month 2005 (?), I wrote my first edition of The Pear Tree House.

And then I heard another story.  And this story spread itself out before me and became a novel idea that I knew I was going to have to write some day.

And, some day became yesterday.

The Pear Tree House isn’t fully edited.   I know what I need to do, but I just don’t want to walk down those roads right now and visit with those characters.  I have walked with them a lot and they need to stay where they are.  Right now, I am walking with Anna and Paul in a book I’m titling Becoming Lazarus.  I wanted it to be titled Raising Lazarus, but that title was taken.

I regret the nearly twenty year hiatus I took from writing.  At the same time, my writing was so immature so many years ago that I fear I would have been type casted into a specific genre and would have never been able to find my way out.  And my perspectives as a writer has lent themselves to new analysis skills as a reader and English teacher.

I want to edit The Pear Tree House, but when the seven rejections came through my favorite professor who once suggested that I publish my short story also suggested that I shelve The Pear Tree House and write something else.

I hated his advice then.  What the hell did he know?

Apparently a lot.  Because The Pear Tree House is quietly sitting in its place in my world. And Lazarus is waking up.

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