When my writing Sherpa (Julie) said to me, “you want to consider this rewriting, not editing.” My heart sank at what my head inevitably knew all along. A novel that I “finished” several Aprils ago, was not finished…until it was finished.
I had gotten caught up with the end goal, to be a published author, and all the perceived joys that go with it. The accolades, the riches, the interviews on Oprah, the recognition, the book readings, the seeing my words in one complete package of the hardbound book in the hands of others. These end gains had become more important, and delusional (who gets rich writing a book? By the time we would add up the hours put into the product, we are making less than minimum wage). The possible outcomes had become more important than the journey of writing itself.
In her poem, The Dash, Linda Ellis explores the in-betweens in life. From birth to death, what it is that makes up the dash on our tombstone. She does not explore our birth, the visioning, the clean slate, or the potential. In our writing process this in-between is that place our novel is birthed and nurtured to life, that moment that we, as writers, realize: “that is what I’m going to write about!”
Linda Ellis does not explore the end, the legacy, the looking back in final conclusion of our life with satisfaction when that last breath is taken. In writing it is, I imagine, hitting the final send button, being okay with the final product. I have self-published, so I know a bit about the potential of that feeling rewarded. But, similar to my mother-in-law, Betty Bemis, who was a painter, there are stories of her coming to your house with a paint brush and fixing something her eye had caught on her last visit; I too have that eye on my self-published and co-authored piece.
For the writer, it needs to be about that dash, that in-bewtween where we live most of our lives. The middle, being okay with non-conclusion, letting the words hit the paper on their journey to some form of paradoxical completion. If the journey is not enjoyed, put off, delayed or procrastinated upon, what is the point of writing?
I now embrace the rewriting process. The magical in-between. I stop taking notes, formulating to do lists and various ways I can procrastinate and avoid this place where the story truly takes root. I sit my butt down in a disciplined fashion and I write. Sherpa Julie also reminds us that all re-writing is writing. All of life is truly lived in the dashes, the in-beween, so why resist? I’m sitting my butt down and write.
How are you spending your dashes?
Christie Gause-Bemis is a writer, artist, mama and co-creator/owner of Hot Pink YOUniversity and author of Ignite Your Life: Live Life with Passion, Purpose and Play. Website: www.hotpinkyou.com. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org