For the last three weeks, I have been working furiously to revise the new novel and meet a deadline. A manuscript that started out at 156,000 + words has shrunk to 130,000. In that process, I have tightened, honed, and drastically improved a work I had thought was already good.
Also in that time, I forgot to eat, didn’t shower, and wore the same sweat pants day after day. It is a wonder my husband still kissed me. Twelve to fourteen hour days take their toll, especially when the effort requires such intense concentration.
The process is winding down and yesterday, proud and exhausted, I agreed to take a day off, drive forty miles, and soak in the tubs at Ojo Caliente. Of course, just in case, we brought the manuscript with us.
It was beautiful. Red rock cliffs juxtaposed a brilliant, blue sky. Snow lay in patches, enhancing the luxury of the hot springs, and soft music piped through unseen speakers. My muscles relaxed. My eyes closed. I fell asleep sitting up and jerked awake just as I was tipping sideways into the water. My husband laughed. While he was rereading the manuscript, he had kept an eye on me – though part of me suspects he would have been greatly amused to see me topple.
Two sangrias before sundown, I had an epiphany. Chapter 3 was all wrong. Choppy, confusing, and dry, it had to be rewritten. We drove home, strategizing plot points for the next book in the series, and by the time we arrived, I was reenergized.
The rewrite took less than half an hour. It made all the difference. Now the book flows and I am smiling again. Today, I’m back at it, but I am less obsessed. Instead, I have some perspective. Though I am grateful for the deadline I imposed on myself, for the contest that kicked me into high gear, and for the knowledge I have gleaned from the exercise, I also remember what it is to enjoy the sun on my face and hold my husband’s hand.
The importance of discipline is undisputed. What seldom gets equal emphasis is the importance of rest. How can we be true to ourselves, our families, and our vision if we are so lost in the process that we can’t see beyond the insides of our minds? Take a break sometimes. It’s essential.