This is the beach I walked along this morning. I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I might have because there were so many big dogs running up and down the beach and I find big dogs frightening. I keep expecting this fear of dogs to go away as I confront much bigger, more potent fears. But it never does. It seems to be a primal fear, something that lives below the level of my thoughts, something that resides deep in my flesh and bones.
Anyway, the fear and the dogs interrupted my peaceful walk on the beach. But it still got the blood pumping through my veins and some air in my lungs before I sat down to write all day. Walking past the scary dogs was probably also good preparation for sitting down to do something else that scared me.
Today I began rewriting my book all over again. Having finally reached the end of my manuscript, having made all the changes suggested by my agent, I sent a couple of chapters to a friend who has worked as an editor and a ghostwriter for memoirs.
She had a big suggestion for me. She suggested that I rewrite the entire book in the present tense.
I resisted the idea initially because I knew how much work it would involve. My book is 100,000 words long. That’s a lot of words to rewrite in a different tense. I want this book to be ready to send to publishers. I want to get to the next step. I want to sell the book and know that it will have a life beyond my kitchen table.
But I also know that this book, this story, matters too much to me to do anything less than the very best job I can with it. So I sat down and rewrote the first chapter in the present tense and I sent it off to Laura, my agent to see what she thought.
She thought it was better. A lot better.
So, now I start all over again. I’m back at chapter two again and who knows how long it will take me to get all the way back to chapter 20 again. I’m working full-time now as well as teaching yoga classes and courses in person and running my 30 days of yoga. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for writing.
A part of me feels a little bit defeated by it all. But the other part of me, the Taurus part of me, knows that I won’t ever give up on this book. I’ll start all over again as many times as I have to to finish it. Maybe it will never be good enough for a publisher to take a chance on it. But this process of writing it will have taught me at least us much as my two years in Afghanistan did.
It will have taught me that I’m persistent. It will have taught me that I’m braver than I realised. It also will have taught me, again, that it really is better to live in the present.
My book will work better written in the present tense. My life will too. Skipping ahead of myself to get to the end of this process, wanting to see some kind of ‘outcome’, is an fool’s game. There is no ‘end-point’. There is only this, right now, writing and learning as I go.