I keep waking up in the morning and I keep having a day. And then I keep going to sleep at night. And then? The next morning I do it again. In this way I hope to eventually get to the morning when I want to wake up and I actually enjoy the day I’m having. But, by going the through motions, I know I’ll get there.

Friends, acquaintances, internet pals and complete strangers have written me lovely and kind notes. THANK YOU SO MUCH for your kindness. I keep thinking I’ll go back in my email and start replying to all of you but then I get stuck because I have no idea what to say except thanks for your caring nature. Please accept this virtual thanks from me to you.

For the past month, while on bed rest, I have been working on my book. I’m just about ready to hand it over to my agent. I’m thankful to have had the time to work on it because I don’t think I could have done it without being forced to. After I finished getting it up on Lulu last year, I swore I would never edit it again. For one thing, it is terribly hard to edit your own work. It’s hard to have perspective because to you, the writer, everything you’ve written is important. Add to that the fact that this book is actually my life. It has been so bizarre to have editors and my agent send me editing notes in emails about ‘the characters’ and ‘the story line.’ The format of the book being what it is has the potential to be confusing to some readers, so there has been careful attention spent on making sure that the transitions are smoother and easier to understand.

But the hardest part for me has been that my strengths in writing do not fall in the creating fictional dialog and characters categories. I’m strongest in retelling events that I have been a part of. And my book is basically just a retelling of my life. 9/10th of it was written by the personalities themselves and now that I’m integrated, those individual voices are gone. To have an editor tell me that ‘this scene isn’t working and needs more dialog between character A and character C’ or ‘let’s have a scene where you learn this information earlier through this particular therapist’ just makes no sense to me. I can’t go back and create dialog that didn’t happen. I can’t make up a therapist and then have events happen that didn’t happen. Maybe if this was a purely fictional book, I could. But I doubt it. I’ve never been that good at fictional writing. Even when I was publishing columns, they were slices of my life that actually happened.

This editing journey, if nothing else, has helped me understand my strengths in writing, which I’m thankful for. Also, I’ve learned how to be strong and assert myself when I’m not comfortable with changes being asked for and made. The end result is a final version of the book that I’m happy with and will have no problem speaking to people about.

And now that the bulk of that is done and I’m no longer required to be on bed rest, it’s time for two things: The gym and a new job. My first time going back to the gym was yesterday. All I did was walk the treadmill for 30 minutes at 4.5 MPH but from the way my body is screaming, you’d think I’d ran a marathon. It’s amazing how fast your body deteriorates.

It feels good to be active again. Another thing to be thankful for.

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13 Comments

  1. Brave, yes YOU!
    My thoughts are with you and congratulations on no small accomplishment on the book. I’ve struggled editing mine too!!

    Hugs & Kisses

  2. Sooooooo happy to hear from you again! Sincere wishes and good thoughts have been sent your way. Please continue to take care of yourself. You’re a beautiful writer with an important message. Keep up the good work!

  3. Um, that whole thing you are doing with the book? Yeah, that’s like REALLY HARD WORK!!!!! Buy yourself a treat. Or two, or three 🙂 You deserve it.

  4. Hugs and more hugs, leah. my experience is that good day will come, if you keep doing the days in between. My guess is everyone who knows yoy or reads you would line up to take turns hugging you if we were near. You’re terrific.
    L

  5. well, we have something in common.

    i took a creative writing class in college because the professor was just all around hilarious and amazing. it also happened to be during a time in my life when a.) i needed another humanities credit and b.) to be blunt, a lot of shit was going on. therefore, for every assignment i got As because i could “get away with” recounting actual events. our last assignment was to write a work of fiction. my god was it hard. i never even finished it i just kept stalling in the middle of metaphors and things that turned into poetry like stuff. when i did finish it was the cheesiest ending i have ever written in my whole life. what a disaster.

    kudos to you for making efforts to get back in the swing of things, my thoughts have been with you and i hope your journey continues uphill.

    also, i like your new masthead, “the gateway blog”! 😀

    pps – today a parade of elephants walked by my office, and i wish they walked over to your coast and your house because i think you might like to get out of bed to see them, and you would smile.

  6. I’ve never thought about how odd it would be to edit a writing that is your LIFE – it seems like it would be cathartic on some levels…

    Here’s to finish one thing and moving on to another, Leah…and 30 min at 4.5? When you are starting? I have been doing the treadmill thing for four months now and a good day for me is 45 at 4.7 – – –

  7. Not that this has anythign to do with this post… Here is the selection I mentioned earlier:

    From ‘Steppenwolf’ by Herman Hesse:

    … And even the unhappiest life has its sunny moments and its little flowers of happiness between sand and stone. So it was then with the Steppenwolf too. It cannot be denied that he was generally very unhappy; and he could make other unhappy also, that is, when he loved them or they him. For all who got to love him saw always only the one side of him. Many loved him as a refined and clever and interesting man, and were horrified and disappointed when they had come upon the wolf in him. And they had to because Harry wished, as every sentient being does, to be loved as a whole and therefore it was just with those whose love he most valued that he could least of all conceal and belie the wolf. There were those, however, who loved precisely the wolf in him, the free, the savage, the untamable, the dangerous and strong, and these found it peculiarly disappointing and deplorable when suddenly the wild and wicked wolf was also a man, and had hankerings after goodness and refinement, and wanted to hear Mozart, to read poetry and to cherish human ideals. Usually these were the most disappointed and angry of all; and so it was that the Steppenwolf brought his own dual and divided nature into the destinies of others besides himself whenever he came into contact with them.

    … There are a good many people of the same kind as Harry. Many artists are of his kind. These persons always have two souls, two beings within them. There is god and the devil in them; the mother’s blood and the father’s; the capacity for happiness and the capacity for suffering; and in just such a state of enmity and entanglement toward and in each other as were the wolf and man in Harry. And these (wo)men, for whom life has no repose, live at times in their rare moments of happiness with such strength and indescribable beauty, the spray of their moments happiness is flung so high and dazzlingly over the wide sea pf suffering that the light of it, spreading its radiance, touches others, too, with its enchantment. Thus, like a precious, fleeting foam over the sea of suffering arise all those works of art, in which a single individual lifts himself for and hour or so high above his personal destiny that his happiness shines like a star and appears to all who see it as something eternal and as a happiness of their own. All these men, whatever their deeds and works may be, have really no life; that is to say, their lives are not their own and have no form. They are not heroes, artists or thinkers in the same way that other men are judges, doctors, shoemakers. Their life consists of a perpetual tide, unhappy and torn with pain, terrible and meaningless, unless one is ready to see its meaning in just those rare experiences, acts, thoughts and works that shine out above the chaos of such a life.

    … and to explain so complex a man as Harry by the artless division into wolf and man is a hopelessly childish attempt. Harry consists of a hundred or a thousand selves, not of two. His life oscillates, as everyone’s does, not merely between two poles, such as the body an the spirit, the saint and the sinner, but between thousands and thousands.

    …And if ever the suspicion of their manifold being dawns upon man of unusual powers and of unusually delicate perceptions, so that, as all geniuses must, they break through the illusion of the unity of the personality and perceive that the self is made up of a bundle of selves… A man, therefore, who gets so far as making the supposed unity of the self twofold is already almost a genius, in any case a most exceptional and interesting person. In reality, however, every ego, so far from being unity, is in the highest degree a manifold world, a constellated heaven, a chaos of forms, of stages and stages, of inheritances and potentialities. It appears to be a necessity as imperative as a eating or breathing for everyone to be forced to regard this chaos as a unity and to speak of his ego as though it were a onefold and clearly detached and fixed phenomenon. Even the best of us share the delusion.

  8. “True wit is nature to advantage dressed…” and so is fiction, it seems.

    Think of the scene in Sunday in the Park With George, when Seurat moves the tree to where it should be for the good of his painting. Your responsibility in writing out your life is to fudge the facts to best express your theme. Plus, isn’t it tempting to throw in witty remarks you wish you had said at the time? Now is your chance.

    And yeah, 4.5? How long are your legs? 4.0 is a jog to me.

  9. damn. I know what you mean about talking about your life in terms of characters and plot and story arc…. I’m of the school that says its ok to edit and revise your life in memoir. I’m now calling the genre “very creative mostly non-fiction” it sort of frees me to apply the rules of good fiction, and good story telling to my work. It’s hard work but worthwhile. Your story is worth telling and having lived it is your gift, a gift that must be shared. Look at the quote you shared from Marianne Williamson. LOVE TO YOU…..Jenn

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